Readers, are you attuned to your senses to the extent many writers are? Are you usually aware of the sights, sounds, odors, textures, and tastes that are in your midst?

Writers, do you ever find yourself attaching a descriptive word or phrase to something you see or hear, as if doing so will preserve the memory of a particular sight or sound?

While I think it’s difficult to rank my senses in their order of importance, I know I depend upon my hearing when it come to creating my characters’ voices and dialogues. Perhaps that’s why I’m usually on the “hear-out” for words that are new to me, or words that seem to be re-purposed, like “horrible,” formerly labeled an adjective, now refashioned as a noun.

[“Many Syrians we spoke to expect the horrible to occur,” said the CNN reporter.]

Here is a list of words that have spiked the little recorder on my aural/visual EKG screen recently. For each one, I’ll supply a definition the word’s sound suggests instead of its real definition. Why? Because that’s much more fun. To further my point, I’ll use each word in a sample sentence.

oxford dictionary


diapositive (n.) A suppository that works in reverse. The minute I learned my doctor had postponed my colonoscopy, I took a diapositive.

conexifies (v.)  The act of performing a crucifixion via a Wi-Fi connection. Had my router been working correctly, I would have been conexified when I climbed to the top of the ladder and attached the iStar to the Christmas tree.



weaponize (v. or adj.)  A term used to threaten defenseless animals and school children. “Do fifty squats or I’ll make you stand against that wall while I weaponize this volleyball,” said the sadistic gym teacher.

Alternate use (v.) A call to attention similar to “recognize.” “The N.R.A. is in da house! Y’all better weaponize!”

malified (adj.)  To be incarcerated in the Mall of America. The defense attorney jumped to her feet when the judge sentenced her client to be malified for a term of ten Christmas shopping seasons. mall of america





troll farm (n.)  Agricultural land frequently located beneath bridges and cultivated by collectives of short, ageless farmers who are sometimes afflicted with gnarled hands.  In an effort to use his troll farm for the good of his consumers,  Mr. Rump L. Stiltskin vowed to stop using pesticides and go full on organic.

rumplestilt. 2

diarize (v.) A self-induced disorder of the digestive system.  Shortly after she ate the entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s newest ice cream flavor, Chunky Chocolate Cheesecake, the lactose intolerant chef realized she’d diarized herself.

uniom (n.) The alternate spelling of the word union.  I read aloud the words printed on the embossed invitation, “You are invited to attend the State of the Uniom Address, unless you are a proofreader. If you are a Republican, you have an automatic permit to carry but you must check your spine and heart at the entrance.”

cofeveve, cofefve (n., adj., v., adv., article, or whatever-the-heck part of speech you would prefer)  An attention-grabbing, head-scratching term used to end a tweet.

“We’re sending missiles, building a wall, keeping transpeople out of the military and away from the bathrooms of their choice, dismantling Medicare and Medicaid, privatizing the National Park System, filling the air with coal dust and all sorts of other crappy pollutants, denying federal funds to public school systems, and instead, funding additional medical research to perfect the procedures used to erase any trace of common sense and compassion from the souls of Dr. Benjamin Carson, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Professor Alan Dershowitz. Cofeveve!


And now dear readers, it’s time for me to tune in to CNN, MSNBC, NPR, or PBS and catch up with today’s NYT and WAPO. Can’t wait to hear/read the latest from the word lab.


Renée Bess is the author of five novels, LEAVE OF ABSENCE; BREAKING JAIE; RE:BUILDING SASHA; THE BUTTERFLY MOMENTS; and THE RULES. She and Lee Lynch are the co-story collectors of the anthology, OUR HAPPY HOURS, LGBT VOICES FROM THE GAY BARS. Renée is grateful to be one of Women and Words’ bloggers.




  1. Nice work. For some reason I cringe when I hear the word “incentivize”. I’m 67, and did not grow up hearing this verb. Maybe I led a sheltered life.


    • Hi Denise … my 67 year old self tries to remember that it is a good thing that our language – something the British probably cringe over when we call it ‘English’ – is a living, growing, evolving organism. I try to remember this especially when I read some sentences (including some by posters here) and have no clue what the writer means.


  2. Thanks for reading my essay, Denise. While you might have led as sheltered a life as I did, I believe you didn’t hear the word “incentivize” because it’s likely it didn’t exist. Surely our well educated parents and our extremely articulate teachers at Girls’ High would have uttered that word had it been a part of the national lexicon.

    Take good care, homegirl.


  3. Those of us who live on the lower peninsula are called ‘trolls’ because we ‘live beneath the bridge.” That is south of the Mackinac Bridge … it is probably the best of the names given to us by those comedians of the upper peninsula. 🙂


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