As a copywriter who does a lot of writing and editing for technology companies, I think about words constantly. What they mean, what they imply, how they’re arranged into graceful sentences, and so on.
Now, I like the writing I do. It’s a privilege to write about a product or service in a way that makes it come alive to the reader, clearly conveys benefits, positions it effectively vis-à-vis the competition. And I love a well-turned phrase, something my clients seem to appreciate as well.
Still, the writing I do on a daily basis isn’t always “fun.” By that I mean that I can’t—and don’t—opt for frivolity or downright foolishness in written expression. That’s why I love the Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational New Word Contest. This lovely event, which I hope is still going on, invites readers to add, subtract, or change one letter in a word and create a new meaning. A case in point is “Intaxication, or the euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.”
The other day, as I was struggling with something and getting increasingly hot under the collar, lo and behold, “flustration” popped into my noggin. (It’s got that yummy southern feel, I think.) As in, “Mary Lou got so flustrated that she had a hissy fit.” And the meaning? “Frustration so severe that it’s greatly unsettling.” Now strictly speaking, this is not an entirely new definition. It’s really more of a tweak, but it’s an honorable effort nonetheless.
Talk is cheap, they say, and that can be true. But words, even made-up words, are a continual joy. My day would be complete if someone told me that “irregardless” had made a come-back. Just kidding.