Last time, we explored the exciting world of invented words, or neologisms—specifically the neologisms coined by America’s founding fathers. This time, we continue with the theme of new word inventions with a second installment of the hit Grammar Snack game, “Word or Not a Word?” If you’re new to this fantastic game, it’s easy: The object is to simply read. That’s it. Read and you win. Even if you get all the answers wrong, you’re still a winner, because you’re a reader, and readers are awesome. Like Friday afternoons, Bundt cakes, and dancing raccoon videos.
Impactful: Word or not a word?
Not a word!
I doubt I’ll convince many readers of this, however, because impactful has firmly embedded itself into the lexicon, especially the lexicon of marketing. It ain’t (also not a word) going anywhere (much to the chagrin of this writer). I don’t know how impact came to develop a funky-looking growth of a ful suffix, but clearly some roguish language rebels felt the words effective, powerful, compelling, and profound were just too ordinary or failed to leave a strong enough impression in expressing … a strong impression. Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for you?), impactful is here to say—even though it isn’t yet recognized as a word. I stress yet.
Empowerful: Word or not a word?
Bingo! Not a word.
And yet that hasn’t deterred some writers/speakers from using it to describe a profoundly empowering experience, something along the lines of transforming their Nissan Juke into an Uber, using their smartphone to microwave a burrito, or Facebooking a photo of their bunion-encrusted feet to show that they’re reclining on a beach in an exotic locale (like a Beaches resort or the L.A. River). Honestly, empowering is a pretty powerful word, more than adequate for the task you need it to accomplish in your communications.
Workstream: Word or not a word?
Word! But just barely.
The term itself is not new—it’s been kicking around the language of business for some time; but only recently has it gained entry to a handful of dictionaries (Dictionary.com, Collins Dictionary, et al.) as a single word, instead of two. Microsoft Word, which was used to compose this post, is still dragging its feet in recognizing the one-word convention; typing workstream was met with the angry-red squiggly underline that signals a spelling error.
Belignorant: Word or not a word?
Not a word!
But not if contributors to the Merriam-Webster Open Dictionary website have their way. The Open Dictionary lets users submit new words and slang terms for consideration for admission to the Big Show: the actual Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Among the many words Open users are lobbying for is belignorant. Just as it sounds, belignorant is a mash-up of belligerent and ignorant. It’s a great word and is very satisfying to say—it’s like a vocal sneer. It’s also the perfect word to describe the pervasive ignorance, intolerance, and aggressive anger (even violence) surrounding a certain country’s current presidential election and political climate. You get extra credit if you can guess which country.
Jeggings: Word or not a word?
Word! And you look stunning in them.
How did you do? You got them all right; didn’t you? Way to go. You’re outstanding. You really are. Smart, too. How’s that for a prize? You gained some knowledge and earned a whole bunch of compliments and affirmations. An empowerful experience to be sure.
Joe Ehrbar is a senior editor at SMITH.