Writing

Words: Bringing Back the “Friffle” #tbt

Confession: this is an edited version of a post I originally wrote years and eons ago for another blog that I have since trashed. I’m throwing the #tbt hashtag on it and bringing it back. After all, when a wannabe-writer tells you that she is genetically predisposed to making-up words and/or believing in the undeniable existence of non-words, you have to wonder if anything she ever produces will make one jot or tittle of sense. I’m still wondering, too, but felt you should be warned in the meantime. 

A smorgasbord of friffles.

A smorgasbord of friffles.

Up until college I knew “friffle” as a word bandied about by my family to denote a piece of lint, fuzz, or rogue thread that was attached somewhere it shouldn’t be – like a sweater, blanket, rug, etc. That was it. That was a “friffle,” and it was used so frequently and with such authority and understood meaning that I never questioned it. It was a perfectly acceptable word, just like “booger” or “butter.”

When my best friend in college questioned the very existence of the word I jumped to its defense. She knew several languages, but what were the odds that she knew all the words in each of them? Then she went to a Model UN competition and honorably defended the word (I suspect more out of loyalty to me than certainty of its existence) but was ultimately convinced that it was, in fact, not a word. Drat the dictionary.

She brought the news carefully to me. And wisely so. This completely upended my linguistic foundation. What other words were I tossing around that were familial treasures but that did not even stretch to colloquial comprehension? I started to mark my conversations carefully, but did not find any other serious offenders. And then I had children and, for reasons unknown to me, I started calling toes “tootsies” and teeth “zoobers.” Those had high chances of being non-words, too. Who do I think I am? The next Dr. Seuss?

You may think that the word “friffle” sounds like a cross between “frazzled” and “trifle.” It does. Long before “ginormous” and “funtastic” made their marks on the American English lexicon, my family was smooshing words and giving meaning to nonsense sounds with the best of them. And if ” on fleek” can make it as a “thing”, then I’m going to keep holding out hope for “friffle” as a word.

My new favorite word-scrunch is “disastrophe.” My 4-yo used it a few weeks ago, and I celebrated her clear word-making-prowess – “Ah, she has the gift!” I thought. A couple days later I overheard her tell her dad that she heard it on My Little Pony. If anyone needs me, I’ll be looking up “gullible” in the dictionary – someone said that word wasn’t in there.

Somebody – anybody – tell me you have made-up words in your lexicon that complete strangers would properly denounce as legitimate.

9 thoughts on “Words: Bringing Back the “Friffle” #tbt

  1. I think all families are guilty of this. Or at least I hope they are, because creating fun words and making them stick helps bond families together (in my opinion, anyway!). My mom used to (and still does) say “funzies,” so that’s one I’ve carried on with my kids. Mind you, as teenage boys they don’t say it. But they did at one time… (And someday maybe they’ll baby talk it to their kids.)

    • Oh that day will be glorious when it comes out of their mouths as parents. You’re right, these are the pieces that tie families together…even if it is first a smack on the forehead saying “Oh no! I’ve turned into my mother/father!” 😃

  2. There are many in my families vocabulary…some, like yours that I thought, whithout question were right. Sadly, found out at a dentist visit that gooms was not what my teeth were attached to!!! You have been heard!!!

  3. Apparently my wife and daughter have been saying “matchy” for a while now and my logical brain was blocking it out. Asking what it meant, I was informed that it means something, like socks, that are of the same pattern but are different colors. They don’t match, but are “matchy”. I just shook my head and headed to the “chofa”. Yeah, just made myself crack up with that. It’s a smoosh of Chaise and Sofa.

    • Haha! Some days, I wish my 4-yo would strive just a bit for “matchy” – she’s still in “More color must be better. More patterns must be better.” Mom gets dizzy and has to lie down on the chofa….yep, that works.

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