The following are examples of totally made-up words, both old and new, that tend to fill me with a white hot rage:
- Grapple (as in, the hybrid fruit that combines an apple with grapes)
- Irregardless (it's not a word, and I won't budge on this subject)
Now, I want to make this clear upfront: I'm typically all for spicing up the English language with made-up words. For example, "flerby." That's a fun word I just invented. It's an adjective referring to the presence of "flerb" in an object. "Flerb" is also a made-up word. Feel free to steal it.
However, there are a few common slang terms out there that just get under my skin. They're clunky, redundant in some cases, and often just completely overused.
Still, I have to admit that, beyond causing me to cringe a bit, the word "crunk" has never personally affected me. Same with "cray", "bae", or even "grapple" (again, I'm talking about the grape/apple nonsense-fruit, NOT the verb meaning to engage in a struggle or use a grappling hook).
But there is one god-awful made-up word that has had a profound impact on my life, one that has haunted me for years. Its very existence has marred my professional resume, and I shudder to have to say it on an almost daily basis.
It may come as a surprise to you to know that I hate this word (and by the way, I hate it very, very much). After all, for the past seven years, I've been blogging (also a dumb word, by the way). I've built a reputation as a blogger (an even worse word somehow). How can I have disdain for this thing that has so publicly defined me?
Well, let's just dissect this word for a minute, shall we?
"Blog" is a term that was coined in the 1990s as a condensed form of the original phrase, web log. You see what they did there? They took the "b" at the end of "web" and stuck it onto "log." Clever, right?
Wrong. It's not clever. It's lazy. Whoever did this just took two dying expressions -- the world wide "web" and the idea of keeping a "log" -- and sewed them together like Frankenstein's monster. In doing so, this mad scientist created one of the least palatable words in human history.
I mean, just try saying it out loud. Really, I'm not kidding.
There's no part of the word that doesn't sound like the incoherent ramblings of a toddler or like the noise my six-year-old niece makes when she comes up for air in the swimming pool. ("Buh! Blah! Blog!")
The mere act of saying "blog" feels like filling your mouth with cotton balls and letting them fall gently off of your tongue.
Worse yet, the words that "blog" resembles are also completely unappealing:
I mean, let's get real about this: "Blog" sounds like the name of a Game of Thrones character who is covered in boils, swills mead all day, and thinks King Joffrey is a pretty stand-up guy.
It's a weird word. There's no getting past that.
But beyond the terrible mouth-feel of "blog", there's also a strangely juvenile connotation to it. Maybe it's just me, but whenever people ask me, "How is your blog going?" I feel like they are two seconds away from patting me on the head and pinching my cheeks.
Blogging has this rep of being somewhat of a hobby, like scrapbooking or caber tossing. Forget the fact that there are humans out there who make multiple six figures doing exactly this kind of thing. When people hear the word blog, they can't seem to shake the image of a fourteen-year-old in 2004 writing Twilight fan fiction in her LiveJournal.
This is the defining word of my career.
And you know what? That's okay.
For as dumb as this word is, it's given me and others like me so much. Blogging has been the catalyst for every major writing gig I have ever landed. It's given me an opportunity to reach into the brains of so many people, whether they wanted me to or not, to talk about things like mental health, body positivity, and creative expression. I've met beautiful human beings through this platform turned IRL friends. I mean, hell, I'm in the process of releasing my first ever book (a far more respectable word, by the way) that is 90% built from blog posts I have written over the years.
This whole blogging thing -- though it sounds oh-so-ridiculous and I realize that -- means a lot to me.
And isn't that the way it goes with so much of the best stuff of life?
Wonderful gifts wrapped in terrible packages.
Groundbreaking works of art created by terribly flawed people.
Life-saving medical discoveries found in petri dishes of goop.
Opportunity born from misery.
The word "blog" is essentially a metaphor in and of itself for all of the things of this world that should be stupid, and may in fact be, but somehow end up proving to be a delightful surprise despite everything.
So I guess I'll stop complaining. I guess I'll stop comparing the word "blog" to the sound a greedy seagull makes when it spews an excess of undigested fish all over the Atlantic Ocean.
And instead, I'll just be grateful. Thanks, Blah-guh.