Inventing words

We were amazed by the quality of entries for our recent ‘make a new word for English’ competition. That 8 to 11 year olds could be so inventive with language was heartening. Some of our favourite entries were:

yayday                   The best day of your life.
neep                       When you’re tired but you don’t won’t to go to bed.
restaround           The action of staying at home and being lazy but happy.
sesterday              The day before yesterday.
corrong                 When you get part of your work correct and some wrong.
stimpy                   The feeling when you wake up from a deep sleep and you don’t know where you are.
spoded                  When you have been running so long your legs feel like jelly.
crumbsy               When you feel like you are falling apart or crumbling on the inside.
fropplegrobber   A person who hijacks a conversation.
exetrimous          An extreme challenge or activity

We agree that many of these words would be useful additions to the English language. We could all do with more ‘yaydays’ and who doesn’t enjoy the occasional ‘restaround’? ‘Neep’ is already in use in Scotland, as a traditional term for turnip, but this new word is so much more useful. How often do we ‘neep’ because we’re binge-watching a series? ‘Corrong’ is so much gentler than telling someone they are wrong.
We have subsequently learnt that there is a word for the day before yesterday. It is ‘ere-yesterday.’ Strange that it has dropped out of usage in English when other languages continue to use similar terms. Maybe it is because ‘ere-yesterday’ sounds a little awkward. We need to adopt ‘sesterday’ instead!
Making up new words requires deep reflection on vocabulary. To complete the task children, need to think of the words that they know, and then also the actions, situations, feelings and things for which there are no known words. Generating a new word requires knowledge of what fits with the rules of how words can be constructed. The words listed above all sound like they could be real words. In short, making up new words is a really powerful way of developing children’s word learning skills.
We have made a presentation to help you introduce this task to your class, group or individual students. Take a look:   Presentation for students

Have fun inventing words!