Friday, November 29, 2013


It was Thanksgiving and my family got together and while we were all together I realized, holy smokes, what language are we speaking? So I decided to observe the words my family, my close friends from back home in Southern California and I have made-up or adopted over the years and make a short dictionary of our most commonly used words.

Wish Flower –
I did not know that a “Wish Flower” did not exist until 2 years ago. It is a term I have been using since I could speak. When my family says this term we are referring to the dandelions that one would make wish on and then blow apart. I assumed everyone used this term for them. My friends back home certainly went along with it. They called them dandelions but never told me my name for them was less common. It is a term my older brother used when he was little and so it was adopted as the official name for the flower. It only makes sense to call a flower you wish on a “Wish Flower.” Right?

 My sister and I use this term as a means of “calling” something. It derived from the sound we would make with our fingers when we double tapped something whilst saying, “I’ll be right back. So it is onomatopoeia. For example I could just say, “Tap-tap” on a chair and leave and expect no one to take my seat since I had, in a way reserved it. Another example would be: “I tap-tap doing the dishes.” (Yes, I actually say that on numerous occasions. Oddly, doing the dishes can be slightly therapeutic.) So our little reduplication has served us well over many years.

My friends and I say this one a lot. We not only hind clipped “legitimate” into the shorter version, “legit” but we also added meaning to it. It means, “cool” or “Holy smokes! I had no idea, tell me more.” It can also mean something is credible. Example: “The guy is legit. Seriously, he is awesome.”

Tuckled In –
My dad used to tuck my sister and I into bed. But ours was a less relaxing ritual and a more dash-into-our-room-and-hide-from-the-tickle-monster (my dad) sort of ritual. My sister and I, like most children, often refused to participate in bedtime. At which point my father would transform into the “tickle monster” and say over and over, “I’m coming to tuckle you in, ha ha.”  Immediately my sister and I would run down the hall, haul our dog Foxy into our room, jump under the covers and try to tuck the blankets around us so the “tickle monster” couldn’t get us. At which point my dad would come in and tickle us sufficiently while our dog Foxy pinched his ears for causing such a fuss. Then my sister and I would fall asleep.

A Blow-‘em-up-
A movie where the women are pretty, the hero has a tortured past but is awesome, the bad guy loses and a lot of stuff explodes. Mostly “dad movies.” After all, I believe he coined that term in our house.

My friends and I have managed to hang on to. “Gnar” short for “Gnarly” is the side effect of laziness and innovation. It doesn’t just mean “big” or “crazy” it means “sweet!” “Cool” “I totally agree man, that Reddit post was insane”, “Nasty”, “gross”, “really bad” etc. Example: When a friend gets stitches or breaks a limb skateboarding or jumping off a roof it would not be uncommon for one of my friends or myself to exclaim “Gnar!” to express a range of emotions. With “gnar” we can address the grotesqueness of the injury whilst also crediting the injured friend with a job well done on living life and surviving, all in just four letters. I would hazard to say that “Gnar” is a highly efficient innovation.

Cowboy Girl-
I grew up riding horses and so my dad always called my sister and I “cowboy girls” My mother even had a license plate for years that read, “cwby grl.” When one thinks of a cowboy one might think of campfires, horses, open plains, bull-riding, rodeos and the like so for my family it just made sense to call ourselves cowboy girls. Not because “cowgirls” is inferior but because cowboy girl is just more fun to say. When one lives in a logophilic family thing can get interesting.

This term refers to someone who is fairly new to an activity or group but instead of acknowledging their “newness” they proceed to try and prove they are far less new than they really are. It is someone who is trying to hide the fact that they are new by trying to prove themselves to those around them by showing off. It is an endearing insult, if you will. For example if someone new has joined us and we are all laughing at various jokes (which is usually the case) the “noob” might try way to hard to make a joke and in reward for his efforts my friends will clap him on the back and say, “good job dude.” And tell him he is a noob. Transparency is, clearly, a must among my friends. At which point, if the newcomer has a good sense of humor, they will relax a bit and feel more comfortable being him or herself from then on.

We shifted the noun “nap” into and adjective. This just means “sleepy.” My brother started using the term about 2 years ago when his first son was born.  He, his wife and I use it all the time now.  Example: “I am so nappy right now.”

This too is a shifted and suffixed word. It just means “sad” but we added a suffix to the end of it to make things more interesting.  Example: “ Are you a saddy?” or “I’m a saddy at the moment.”

I suppose I use this word more than anyone else I know but it evolved in my circle of friends. “Word” can mean, “cool”, “I agree”, “I’m totally down.” “Same” etc. So I guess one could say I borrowed a word from my own language and changed it’s meaning from that which refers to, according to the Free Online Dictionary, a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed” into a term meant to express agreement, excitement and a myriad of other things. I know this slang word was used in the past to express some of these things as well, I just have a sneaking suspicion I’ve used it in far more ways than just to express agreement.

This is also a word that I use to express excitement. It is very close in meaning to the actual definition to “poke at” or “kindle a fire” Excitement feels like that so it makes sense one might explain “I’m stoked!” meaning the fire of excitement inside of you has been sufficiently rekindle and desires to do the thing of which stoked that excitement and goaded it out of a dull glow. So this word has taken on a more metaphorical meaning more me. I used stoked to refer to excitement more so than I would to acknowledge the act of poking an actual fire.

            I have been very lucky to grow up around people who so easily make-up and accept words. It makes life fun and it keeps one from taking themselves to seriously.

 I'm out.

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