Made Up Words

There are so many words we use in the English language that we take for granted.

Over the years we have come to be accustom to various terms and phrases that are either made-up-words, made-up-phrases or brand names.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s we often use the words:

  • NutraSweet” to refer to sugar substitute;
  • “Coke” to refer to cola drinks; and
  • Coffeemate” to refer to coffee whitener.

Now with recent technological advances and its integration into our daily lives, more terms have come about.

In 2004, they came up with the term “Podcasting” (aka. “Podcast”), which is an amalgamate of the terms “iPod®” and “broadcasting”, to refer to recorded audio programs/shows for time-shift listening. While the word “iPod” itself is a made-up-word by Apple Computer, when they released their version of the MP3 player in October 2001. Similarly there is the word “Vodcast” to refer to recorded videos for time-shift viewing.

Speaking of time-shift viewing, there is also the term”TiVo“, which is a brand, company and service from the US company of the same name started in 1997. They developed the device and service for time-shift viewing of TV programs, by allowing users to record TV programs onto the built-in hard drive of the TiVo console. This made-up-word is often used in the context “I will just TiVo it” – meaning they will record the TV program and watch it at a later date, in another words, time shift the TV program in question.

There are quite many more made-up-phrases that were coined during this past decade:

  • “Let’s Google it” – meaning to search the web/Internet for the subject.
  • “I will Flickr it” – meaning to post a photo on the Internet of the subject.
  • “I will ICQ you” or “I will MSN you” – to tell someone that one will send a message via one of the many instant messaging (IM) services (ie. ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, iChat, GTalk, Jabber, etc.). A variation of this made-up-phrase is “I will IM you”
  • “Why don’t you beam it” – asking someone to send some data via IR (infrared) or Bluetooth from one mobile device to another (ie. telephone number, address, photo, ringtone, etc.).
  • “Let’s Wikipedia it” – meaning to look it up on Wikipedia (a multi-lingual open source encyclopedia

Some of these made-up-phrases and made-up-words are location or geo specific.

For example, in Hong Kong you may hear people use the following phrases:

  • “I want to doot it”
  • Can I doot it

These phrases mean “I want to use Octopus to pay for it” and “Can I pay by Octopus”.

The Octopus&trade card is a very successful and widely used contactless smartcard developed in Hong Kong with over 11 million cards in circulation. It is used in Hong Kong for both payment (public transport, store purchases, parking fees, newspaper stand, etc.) and non-payment (residential complex entry, business tower entry, primary school entry, etc.) transaction.

With all these made-up-words, it is also taking a lot less time for these words or phrases to be officially entered into dictionaries. In August 2005, Oxford Dictionaries officially included the word “Podcast” into their “Oxford Dictionary of English, Revised Second Edition” published on August 11, 2005, which is only 10 months after the word was first used. That is much faster than many of the other new words introduced in this edition of the dictionary; like: “eighty-six”, “fanboy” and “wiki”.

So next time you hear a word or phrase you may want to think about its origin, you never know, you may be participating in a new evolution.

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