Twiticule, Povertunity: Author Creates New Words for the Modern World

Apr 10, 2015

"That Should Be a Word" features 244 of Skurnick’s wordplays such as "fidgital" (meaning to excessively check one’s devices), all arranged in diagrams detailing their interrelationships.
Credit Workman Publishing

The English language is usually a pretty useful tool. Most of us don't have too much trouble finding a word to describe what we're talking about.

But it's a rapidly changing world in which we live, and ideas often come along that defy easy explanation. Like, say, the use of microscopic components to build machines, it's a concept called nanorobotics.

A new book by Lizzie  Skurnick is about neologisms, names for things that didn't have names before.

Skurnick has a knack for coming up with them – enough so that her column in the New York Times Magazine, called That Should Be a Word, won fans around the world.

"Every language lends itself, I think, to its own kind of wordplay in its own forms. But I do think English is very, very mutable in this particular way, which is why it's easy to have fun in this language," says Skurnick.

Her column grew so popular that it spurred a book by the same name, and Skurnick will be in Milwaukee Saturday to talk about it.