Thursday, October 1, 2009

Onward, upward, chinward?


By now you all know how obsessed I am with these little things called words. I may have even admitted my tendency to take my thesaurus to bed and just flick through words lists... and I might have explained on more than one occasion how fond I am of playing among sentences and squeezing language through my fingers... today I discovered something else... There are not enough words.

Imagine my surprise. Picture if you will, me sitting there happily typing away, when I wanted a word to describe how your tears run down your face. You and I both know that tears do not drip off your cheeks. They don't drop to the floor straight from your eyes. No. A tear left unchecked, unwiped and unhindered runs... wait for it... chinwards. Yes people. Chinwards. As in, towards ones chin. Not downwards. But, chinwards. Often collecting there until more than one tear joins hands and trips off the edge. Tears drip chinwards.

It is not a word. You see, we have upwards, downwards sidewards, forwards, backwards, even onwards... but no... not chinwards. I retyped the word, thinking perhaps my spell checker was merely tripping over the um, spelling. But no. The thin dotted line under my word chinwards was quite adamant that chinwards was not, nor had it ever been, a word. So I googled it. Google also got an attitude with me, saying, "Did you mean to search for Mr. Chin Wards."
"No Mr. Goolge, I did not mean to search for Mr. Chin Wards." Though I am sure he is a very nice man, and if you bother to look him up you will discover that he is on Facebook and is also an artist.
BUT...I mean chinwards.
Where the tears go.

This is not my first suspicion that my native tongue is some what lacking. A couple of weeks ago my husband asked me to tell him the word that meant 'an even held every other year.'
"Bi-annual," I shot back.
"No doesn't that mean every two years?"
"Um..yes. I guess it does..."
"What about alter-annual? Is that the word?"

But Mr. Google put us in our place. No. This was not the word. But clearly, it should be. Alter (alternative) annual (year). Great word. I like it. But sadly, it does not exist.

Then there are the words thank you. Which are real words and ones that I have used a lot in the last year. There is one particular woman who has held many of my tears and hears me say it quite a bit.
But here is the thing.
We say, "thank you" when some one makes us a cup of coffee, "thank you" if someone holds the door opened or helps wash the dishes... "thank you" is even a perfectly good word to use when given a box of chocolates or a bunch of flowers... but, try saying, "thank you" for taking my hand and walking with me through my graveyard of memories." Doesn't quite cover it, does it...
I've tried using it to say thank you to the man who has stood beside me for eleven years.
I've even tried using it to thank God for my beautiful children.
Now doesn't "thank you" suddenly start to seem like a very small word? I start emptying out my back pockets looking for something... bigger. Thank you needs to be a bigger word. Or perhaps another word. Something...fuller?

What about you? Do you have this problem with your words? Have you made up any of your own? Or am I the only one inventing the next Oxford Dictionary?

PS- yes, I know, 'unwiped' is not a word either... it should be... see my point?


  1. Use it. I use made up words all the time. Frig google!

  2. I love this post. I so agree with you about the thank you thing - I've thought that for years. Love chinwards. If enough of us start using it, it will become real. Mr Google definitely has an attitude, and he doesn't actually know everything.

  3. LOL suznne. Okay then. I will :)

    Deb, yes Mr. Google thinks he wears the pants doesn't he?!

  4. You are absolutely correct with the utter inadequacy of "thank you" to convey deeper shades of gratitude. But I have no remedy for the situation.
    I agree wih Deb, if we use a word enough it becomes real. Every year new words are accepted/inducted into the official Webster's Dictionary merely because of their widespread use. A student told me that "bootylicious" has officially made it, so why not "chinwards"?

  5. As long as Mr. Chin Wards has no objection, put it in the blogtionary. ;)

  6. I wish I'd called my blog Onwords, Upwards and Chinwards now rofl :D

    I think "I love you" is inadequate. You say it to so many people and there are so many people that you do love. But it doesn't fit right for everyone. How can I say that I love an idea as much as I love my children? The eskimoes have 100 words for snow, or so they say, and yet we have one for love? Surely it's worth a few more words than that.

    I've made up all sorts of words and then discovered they were real anyway, like verbosity. But I'm always making them up. some day I hope to find the perfect alternate wording for "I love you".

  7. THis is a timely post, because for the life of me, I could not come up with the right words today while teaching my 5th graders. They kept having to supply words for me. I think I need more sleep!

  8. This shows how fluid the English language needs to be. There's no reason why it should remain 'finished' and 'set.' Words are being added all the time and I think 'chinward' is as good as any. You're right, tears do flow that way.
    I also agree with what you and the commenters have said about the occasional inadequacy of 'thank you.'

  9. What a fun post. People do make up works. The more you use the words, the more legit they become. I used to have my students as a group make up a word, then go out and use it on campus. Then we'd see if others began to pick it up. And look at Google. It's become a verb and it's a made up word. We all use it now.

    Straight From Hel

  10. One of my blogger friends just adds her made up words to the dictionary on Word so it doesn't keep marking them. I kind of like that idea. And, google doesn't know everything!

  11. Lazy writer, yeah good idea!

    Helen, goolge has become a verb! Too true.

    Paula, thanks for visiting. The english language is very very fluid. I hope it always stays that way. Maybe that's why I liken it to sand and mud all the time?

    Katie, thanks. Sleep. Yes. Where is that again?

    Wendy- it is not too late to change:) LOL

  12. thank you tricia, I think I will.

    Ava, really? Bootilicous made the dictionary? Cool.

    Think I'm going to let loose with the made up words now people. You have inspired me:)) Heavens knows my spelling is made up half the time!

  13. I like your new words. You should use them all the time!

    I'm definitely using chinwards. It's not straight down, or sideways, it's directly... toward the chin. I love it!


  14. LOL! Great post Tabitha! You totally need to use it. Occassionally I'll be surprised to see the squiggle beneath a word I thought for sure was legit. If it's a coherent word, I'll keep it. Shakespeare made up tons of words.
    Consider yourself a literary genius. *wink*

  15. How about when you are lying on your back crying and the tears drip into your hair. Hairward, right? Love this post.