Helping old words find new life

The exciting part of working in a newsroom is not only embracing change, but giving it a daily bear hug.

Womby Field (AJC FILE PHOTO)

Credit: George Mathis

icon to expand image

Credit: George Mathis

While I was once taught to write "so an eighth-grader can understand it," online parlance requires the use of words that are not yet official words.

If Thomas Jefferson was alive today he'd have no idea what you were talking about if you "texted" him and asked for an "emoji" translation of the Declaration of Independence.

The problem? People keep making up new words and shoving them into the lexicon and expecting us to keep up.

Why just the other day I was "photobombed" by someone in "jeggings."

Because keeping up with new words isn't enough of a hassle, a co-worker, who shall remain nameless, wants to "rescue old words from the scrapheap of history" by giving them new, fresh meanings.

Human Resources has asked me to not think aloud, but today I said Donald Trump's decorator seems to have a "doily" fetish.

"Doily is so much fun to say we really ought to find a new way to use it," my wordy co-worker opined.

A "gruntled" -- defined by us as a short form of "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" -- co-worker said "Doily" would be a good name for the "dancing cucumber on Slack."

If you don't know what Slack is, you must work in a coal mine. Or so I am told.

I think a "doily" might be a hockey player who refuses to block a shot with his face.

Feel free to come up with your own meaning of the word "doily." The important thing is we start using the word again. A little confusion is acceptable.

We made a quick list of words you can start using today:

Oldfangled: "Newfangled" means "new" but cleverly adds "fangled" as a suffix to make it sound way cooler. Oldfangled is a bit more nuanced and could mean something old that someone is trying to pass off as new. Like this list of words.

Gainly: We know what ungainly means, so "gainly" must mean something akin to "graceful." You could use it in a sentence like this: "The Braves' fall from grace has not been gainly." OK, maybe that is a bad example.

Woofits: This is actually a word that means "hangover." My wordy co-worker says it is "tinged with onomatopoeia" because it evokes the sound of vomiting. Time for another "random" drug test.

Genappe: It means "smooth yarn" but Amazon and hobbies that are fun have killed off knitting. We can revive genappe to mean "a coffee drink infused with gin." Here's how you could use it: "I got woofits at a meet-cute while slamming genappes with my fam at Starbucks."

Womby: An old word that means capacious. Don't you hate it when you have to look up the definition of a word in the definition of another word?

Higgledy–piggledy: It means "chaotic" or "messy" but I think it could also mean "unhelpful." You could use it like this: George's definition of womby was piggishly higgledy–piggledy.

Gobsmacked: It means "astonished" and, like doily, is fun to say. Example: "I am gobsmacked the Braves lost another game I paid to go see at womby Turner Field but at least the beer is so expensive I didn't get woofits."

Had enough? I know the spellcheck on this computer has.