Mandy Eve-Barnett's Blog for Readers & Writers

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Ask A Question Thursday

May 2, 2019



As we all know Shakespeare was adept at creating numerous words for his own works, which are even today in common usage (whether we known their origin or not!) So today’s question is: Do you make your own vocabulary words in your book or resort to the existing ones?


Here is a list of Shakespeare’s unique words:  

Bandit Henry VI, Part 2. 1594

Critic Love’s Labour Lost. 1598.

Dauntless Henry VI, Part 3. 1616.

Dwindle Henry IV, Part 1. 1598.

Elbow (as a verb) King Lear. 1608.

Green-Eyed (to describe jealousy) The Merchant of Venice. 1600.

Lackluster As You Like It. 1616.

Lonely Coriolanus. 1616.

Skim-milk Henry IV, Part 1. 1598.

Swagger Midsummer Night’s Dream. 1600.

Shakespeare must have loved the prefix un- because he created or gave new meaning to more than 300 words that begin with it. Here are just a few:

Unaware Venus & Adonis. 1593.

Uncomfortable Romeo & Juliet. 1599

Undress Taming of the Shrew. 1616.

Unearthly A Winter’s Tale. 1616

Unreal Macbeth. 1623

When we look at these words it is fascinating to think until the Bard created them they did not exist!

Please post your comments below.

Last week’s question: Where is your perfect writing retreat?

Weather it’s sitting somewhere with a legal pad, or sitting at my desk in front of my desktop computer, I need complete silence when I write.

Although I began my novel, NOLA Gals with an extended metaphor of the ocean while on a cruise, poolside with a tropical drink, I wrote most of it alone at my sister’s cottage. I moved back and forth between deck and kitchen table, piling up research books & handwriting historical data in ringed notebooks. Eventually it all came together on my laptop.

Made Up Words – Intriguing or Cringe Making..?

November 21, 2014


Made up words are a delight most of the time, some we use oblivious of their origins as they have been in common usage for centuries. However, others recently added to the dictionary have us shaking our heads. In the links below we have Banana Republic, Beatnik, Bedazzled, Catch-22, Debunk and more.

What ‘new’ words make you cringe?

Which words are your favorite from the lists above?

Have you ever made up a word for a novel?

I make up names most often, for example my novella is called The Rython Kingdom. The word Rython is a completely new word. I wanted a word that would intrigue and reflect the mythology/fantasy element of the narrative.

Examples –

Chick lit  – Books, usually featuring female characters, written by women on contemporary themes and issues that appeal more to women than to men.

Chillaxing – Blend of chilling and relaxing. Taking a break from stressful activities to rest or relax.

Blook – A blend of book and blog: a book written by a blogger

Prompt logo


Today’s prompt – why not share one of your made up words and why you created it OR make one up and its definition.


Snirtle – My Favorite Word to Date…

December 4, 2013

Snirtle – definition: to snicker mockingly

I absolutely love this word and will have to find lots of occasions to use it. I think everyone needs this word in their personal lexicon. It is both a noun and a verb. It is a soft, suppressed laugh, a soft snortle (itself a reduced snort) or shortened snigger. Therefore, a snort is greater than a snortle, which is greater than a snirtle.

Snirtle was used by Robbie Burns in 1785  The Jolly Beggars : A Cantata

Wi’ ghastly e’e poor tweedle-dee
Upon his hunkers bended,
An’ pray’d for grace wi’ ruefu’ face,
An’ so the quarrel ended.
But tho’ his little heart did grieve
When round the tinkler prest her,
He feign’d to snirtle in his sleeve,
When thus the caird address’d her

Do you have favorite words? What are they?

While investigating the word, I came across these cute pictures at Deviant Art by Tazworth (Shauna) – aren’t they awesome?

Which is your favorite?




Euphemism’s Abound…

November 19, 2013

Euphemism – definition: the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague word or expression for a more harsh one


We all know several euphemism’s, I am sure. It is why we use them that is interesting. It may be to lessen pain or distress to someone or to hide a fact from a younger person or child. We can openly say these phrases without emotional harm to the person we are saying them to or about. Is this sugar coating reality – yes it is – but they do prevent embarrassing or hurtful situations on both sides of the conversation.

Take the example of two older people discussing a friend who has died. They would not say ‘died’ rather use passed away.

In literature we can find euphemisms, such as :

George Orwell has the “The Squealer”, a character in his “Animal Farm”, using the word readjustment instead of reduction when announcing food rationing to suppress the complaints of other animals about hunger. Reduction means “cutting” food supply while readjustment implies changing the current amount of food.

“For the time being,” he explains, “it had been found necessary to make a readjustment of rations.”

In William Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra”. In Act 2 Scene 2, Agrippa says about Cleopatra:

“Royal wench!
She made great Caesar lay his sword to bed.
He plowed her, and she cropped.”

The word “plowed” refers to the act of sexual intercourse and the word “cropped” is a euphemism for becoming pregnant.

Here are some euphemism’s but by no means all of them:

  • Passed away or departed instead of died
  • Correctional facility instead of jail
  • Fell off the back of a truck instead of stolen
  • Ethnic cleansing instead of genocide
  • Collateral damage instead of accidental deaths
  • Letting someone go instead of firing someone
  • Put to sleep instead of euthanize
  • On the streets instead of homeless
  • Adult entertainment instead of pornography
  • Au natural instead of naked
  • Big-boned or portly instead of heavy or overweight
  • Use the rest room or powder your nose instead of go to the bathroom
  • Break wind instead of pass gas
  • Economical with the truth instead of liar
  • The birds and the bees instead of sex
  • Between jobs instead of unemployed
  • Vertically-challenged instead of short

Do you have a few you would like to share?

What is your favorite?

Have you used any in a story?

I found this super link – take a look:


Preposterous My Dear…

September 24, 2013

Preposterous – definition: absurd, senseless, foolish, ridiculous

Today’s word seems to have lost it’s common usage – although it is a fun word to incorporate into every day conversation. The words origin is thought to be medieval when belief in monstrous and fabulous creatures was commonplace. The word itself has both ‘pre’ (front) and ‘post’ (rear) within it. In relation to the fantastic animals it describes their having parts in the wrong order, such as animals that had heads and tails reversed or even heads are both ends, for example – the Amphisbaena.


Preposterous was used to refer to things which were wrong or inverted from as early as 1533, one such example was in a translation of Erasmus’ Enchiridion Militis Christiani. It’s use in relation specifically to ‘wrong’ animals has been found from least 1661, when it appeared in Joseph Glanvill’s The Vanity of Dogmatizing:

“Thus our Eyes, like the preposterous Animal’s, are behind us.”

In modern day the one animal that comes to mind is the Push me, Pull Me of Doctor. Dolittle fame. Of course, there are natural occurrences when twins of animals do not disconnect within the womb, leading to cojoined twins.



Have you used preposterous in a novel or essay?

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