Words that should exist

Empty speech bubbles float above our heads. Photo by looking4poetry on Flickr.

My roommate and I both deal in words — but I am a journalist and she is a creative writer. While she embarks on flights of fancy, I fumble around fact-checking. Sometimes, though, I get to live vicariously through her.

Lately, Sigal has been asking around for words that don’t exist — but should! Inspired by the suggestions of my peers, I’m chiming in with my own short list.

(Qualifier: For some reason, my non-words are mostly feelings one experiences in thorny situations. Please attribute this to my cranky mood today and not my early-onset curmudgeonry.)

There should be a word for…

  • The knowledge that an exchange between you and another person is strained, but you can’t figure out which one of you is making it awkward.
  • The discomfort you feel when an older person gets on a bus, but you’re not quite sure if they qualify as a senior. You consider offering them your seat, but you don’t want to offend them or trigger their fear of mortality.
  • Covering up when you’re standing with someone whose name you really should know, but you can’t introduce them to a third party who approaches the two of you. (Similar to addressing that unnameable person in a friendly manner without ever using their name).
  • The darting glance you throw around a room when plotting ways to get out of a boring conversation — specifically at a party.
  • The residue anger you feel after you’ve resolved some argument but still want to continue on with your insolence.
  • The non-committal nod and slight eye squint you make when you have no clue what another person is talking about. (Add  a special affix for when they begin their sentence with “you know how…”)
  • When writing email: the impulse to hit ‘send’ without checking your spelling or grammar, followed by the impulse to immediately re-read your sent message even though it’s too late to change it.
  • The special relief you experience when you think you’re running late to meet someone, but you actually show up before them and have exactly enough time to compose yourself. (Often coupled with the subtle joy of being “so understanding” when they apologize.)

That’s all for now! Although I’m sure I’ll think of more words in the middle of the night when I feel too lazy to get up and write them down. (The next morning, this shall be followed by the frustration of trying to remember “some good idea I think I had last night.”)

Please feel free to add your own word wish list in the comment thread! Maybe my creative roommate will string together some letters for you, and they will become the talk of the town.

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2 thoughts on “Words that should exist

  1. “When writing email: the impulse to hit ‘send’ without checking your spelling or grammar, followed by the impulse to immediately re-read your sent message even though it’s too late to change it.”

    This one happens to me all the time. I hope if you or your roommate coin a phrase for this one you’ll keep me in the loop!

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