FAMILY WORDS & REFLECTIONS
After learning about Mission Orbisculate, members of Orbisculation Nation have contacted us from around the world to share words their own families invented and to note how our dad's love of language was experienced in their family as well. We initially wrote a post about the phenomenon on our blog (since retired), but as the words kept coming, we decided to honor them -- and their creators -- with this dedicated section of Orbisculate.com. Does your family have a word that should be added to the list or a reflection to pass along? Tell us about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony A. Matthews, D.V.M.
I lost my dad, Anthony A. Matthews, last April 21, 2020. He was 84 years old. My dad made up a word that all 13 of us kids thought was also a real word. We used it “normally” until we got older and people would ask what the heck we were talking about. That word was “floogie”: fuzz or lint or particle that one would find on the carpeting.
As you can imagine with 13 kids, money was scarce growing up. We did not have a vacuum cleaner. In fact, we didn't even know it was normal to own such a thing. My dad would regularly “employ” us, each with our own little dish or container, to pick up as many floogies from the living room carpeting as we could find. It was a contest, with a prize of knowing you were the winner, and we did this at least weekly.
As an adult, I use this word -- no longer embarrassed knowing that it is “not really a word” -- and I have taught my children to use this word, and they have passed it on to others.
Martha Matthews Fellman
In middle school, after a sleepover, I sat down for breakfast with my friend’s family. They offered me orange juice, and I asked if it was the kind with flickers. They were dumbfounded. Surprised, I explained that it was the little pieces (of pulp, as a normal-person would apparently say) that stuck to the glass and in between your teeth.
Annoyed by their laughter, I went home and told my mom, Lynn, that my friend’s family had never heard of flickers.
“Oh,” said my mom, looking guilty.
“What?” I asked.
“That’s because I . . . made that word up.”
“You can’t just MAKE UP words!”
Lynn and Kathleen
My dad made up a word when we were kids, woompus (I never saw it in writing, but that’s the phonetically correct spelling). A woompus was a big bird that came out at night, looking for children who are out after dark. If he found one, he would sweep it up and carry it away into the night. Yeah, I know, kind of creepy, but it scared me straight.