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That Should Be a Word: A Language Lover’s Guide to Choregasms, Povertunity, Brattling, and 250 Other Much-Needed Terms for the Modern World

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Finally there’s a word for Fidgital —excessively checking one’s devices. Martyrmony —staying married out of duty. Author of the highly popular “That Should Be a Word” feature in the New York Times Magazine , Lizzie Skurnick delights word lovers with razor-sharp social commentary delivered via clever neologisms. That Should Be a Word is a compendium of 244 of Skurnick’s wittiest wordplays—more than half of them new—arranged in ingenious diagrams detailing their interrelationships.

Complete with definitions, pronunciations, usage examples, and illustrations, That Should Be a Word  features words on our obsession with carbiter —one who asserts that someone else cannot be hungry. On social media, like twiticule —to mock someone in 140 characters. On the modern family, like brattle —to discuss one’s children at great length, which leads to words like spamily —Facebook or Twitter updates about kids—and spawntourage —a group of approaching strollers.

From highlighting the profound financial anxiety of a post-recession society ( bangst ) to mocking the hyper-vain celebrity circle that abstains from anything of import ( celebracy ), That Should Be a Word delves deep into all the most humorous, and maddening, aspects of life in the 21st century.

160 pages, Paperback

First published April 7, 2015

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Lizzie Skurnick

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5 stars
17 (17%)
4 stars
36 (36%)
3 stars
33 (33%)
2 stars
11 (11%)
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3 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 24 of 24 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
March 31, 2019
this is a book filled with words that should exist, but do not. yet. for example, Bitrayal which is a perfect word for the Emotion occasioned by biting into a foodstuff you thought was another flavor. this is a word we are not likely to need often, but when we need it, we NEED it.

in order to help reboot the english language and ensure that it doesn't become a dead language anytime soon, i am going to begin peppering my speech with words learned from this book. like so:

not to be Lostentatious, but after my recent Cubicull, i have been filling my days with Shoverdosing on friday night lights and trying not to fall into Pagita as i look at my stacks of BEA books and other book-promises i have made because i am a Canvict, and trying not to stress out over all my Chorespondence and the Flagony to which i am so susceptible. i'm trying to take this time to just chill out and get my head in order before i figure out what to do in terms of rejoining the working world.

because it's dispiriting, right? it's hard not to feel a little Slumbrage. i loved my job, and i was very good at it. i'm a very Choreful person; a hard worker who has never fallen prey to the Faultitask, cheerfully carrying out all Obligrations, and even willing to Plabor because go team. so it's hard to accept that i got laid off when i know how often i worked myself into Exhaustence with insomniac Chorement, and how frequently i would Storbear my Dronely feelings when i saw other people yukking it up in the workplace. i keep reminding myself that it's not like i did anything wrong, just luck of the draw or whatever, and it's not like i have anything to feel bad about - this is no Gafftermath. and yet, i'm filled with Poutrage when i think "why me?" but then it kind of mellows into Doubtrage because - maybe this is an opportunity, as they say. maybe there is something better out there for me, even though i thought this was my dream job - maybe it was a Relashionship in disguise.

i'm trying not to become a Saddict and fall into the Recritivism trap, but not having a job has made me more susceptible to Slowth. i am having more Slocab moments, and sitting around Chowsing all day has made me a little chubby. which is fine, since it's okay to Faternize when grieving; i feel complete Flabsolution and i've never been a Bitemizing kinda girl - no Deniets here!! besides - there are still some fans of my weekly AIFAFs out there - i can't let them down! i just need to be a little cash-careful and not try to be a Niblesse. but the AIFAFs must continue! where would internet be without all my Supdates; all the photos of greg being Fidgital, all the Gleevil things i do to his food while he's in the bathroom, all the Pestioning by me when i get Implatient, the Imparious way i forge into new environments?? greg would miss me and how i am always Chronstant (except for those times when i am Stardy), and how l always Tabdicate, and will never be one of those Reliabails. and that is why HE will never be my Palbatross! but yeah, so - job.

it's weird being in this floaty period. to not know what's going to happen on the horizon. and i don't want to Canticipate or be Deprescient, but the whole process of looking for work is a drag. i hate writing resumes. i'm not someone who enjoys Dronanism, and the whole "selling oneself" to prospective employers feels awkward and Pomplicated. interviews are so stiff and fake-seeming; it's all Autoprylot questions on one side and Blitzcreed on the other, and Wordure desperately filling in the gaps. there should just be a blood test for "good work ethics/habits" so i don't have to go through that first date rigamarole or ever be Snoopervised once i do get the job. and i will. because i am good at things. i am Crambitious!! i'll even take a Povertunity at this point.

but i won't lie - it IS nice to not have to experience that Dready feeling every day over the summer-subway commute. i get to avoid the odors, the Germament, the Invertebrats, the overhearing of the details of strangers Boudwars turning me into a Dumpire, the fun game of "what's the Stinkubus?" the heat is kind of paralyzing to me in general, and i hate the street/subway/street/office Sweather, so i feel a small sense of relief that i'm not forced to head into it every day, sweating onto fellow-commuters while fantasizing about Frostage. and i'm avoiding all the other annoyances of the urban jungle - the Sloglers, the Stewage, the Clogins. in a way, i kind of Loave my current situation - it's a much-deserved break, but is hard for me. i've never been good at Pleisure. Plassitude does not come easy to me, and Oughty would make me feel naughty - my sense of industry rears up.

but i don't want to Mopine. for now, i'm just going to distract myself, mask myself in Morosy, work on my Perseveerance, ignore the Bangst. maybe find some Comreads, use this free time to tackle some Stressipes (and not share with anyChewsy Feditors who perform Ingestigations on everything they are served - looking at YOU, connor!), and to just think about my options and who might want to give me the perfect Mespoke job.

so to all of you Theratroopers who have emailed me with your Chumbrage, i appreciate it. and i know i'm going to be okay - there will be no Pleasurrection; i'm just resting. and i apologize for being so Wordant - i'm actually experiencing a little Commentwary Sharanoia right now, but i think we all learned something here about vocabulary and about how someone should hire me because i am adorable.


Lostentatious - Overly public about one's downfall.

Cubicull - Laying off of staff.

Shoverdose - To binge-watch a TV series.

Pagita - The stress of the unread.

Canvict - One imprisoned by inability to say no.

Chorespondence - Mail you don't want to deal with.

Flagony - Guilt over unanswered important emails.

Slumbrage - slow-to-grow anger.

Choreful - Way too happy to work. (as in "David found his choreful sister bizarre, though he was happy to let her sweep up and load the dishwasher after dinner." not "i am too happy to do any work today!")

Faultitask - Mess up by trying to do too many things at once.

Obligration - Annoying task.

Plabor - Working while on vacation.

Exhaustence - The state of always being tired.

Chorement - Being haunted by to-dos.

Storbear - To sustain aggrievement.

Dronely - Having to finish something entirely by yourself.

Gafftermath - Fallout from a scandal.

Poutrage - Anger by way of whining.

Doubtrage - Uncertainty about whether one should be mad.

Relashionship - Bad romance you can't leave.

Saddict - One who thrives on misery.

Recritivism - Torturous preoccupation with long-ago mistakes.

Slowth - Ever-increasing lassitude.

Slocab - The words you can't think of.

Chowse - Absentmindedly eat the food in one's vicinity.

Faternize - Hang out with other unhealthy eaters.

Flabsolution - Self-forgiveness for weight gain.

Bitemize - Count calories.

Deniet - Lie about cheating on regimen.

Niblesse - Those who eat only exorbitantly priced foods.

Supdate - Food-related posting.

Fidgital - Excessively checking one's devices.

Gleevil - Happily disobedient.

Pestion - To ask something over and over.

Implatient - Edgy for food to get on the table.

Imparious - Confidently leading in the wrong direction.

Chronstant - Always on time.

Stardy - Setting off late.

Tabdicate - Let someone else figure out the check.

Reliabail - Always canceling.

Palbatross - A friend you'd like to drop.

Canticipate - To visualize negative events or consequences.

Deprescient - Imagining the worst will happen.

Dronanism - Love of hearing oneself talk.

Pomplicate - To create unnecessary confusion with formality.

Autoprylot - Perfunctory questioning.

Blitzcreed - Trumpeting one's beliefs.

Wordure - Statements full of shit.

Snoopervise - Secretly monitor employees.

Crambitious - Taking on an excessive workload to advance in one's career.

Povertunity - A job with more status than salary.

Dready - Always prepared for disaster.

Germament - The o'erhanging galaxy of contagions.

Invertebrat - Annoying offspring of clueless parents.

Boudwar - An argument originating in the bedroom.

Dumpire - Person who has to hear both sides of a fight.

Stinkubus - Source of a mysterious stench.

Sweather - Days that swing back and forth between hot and cold.

Frostage - Imprisoned by cold.

Slogle - Reduce one's speed in order to catcall.

Stewage - Garbage left out in heat.

Clogin - Person who blocks the way while checking device.

Loave - To love and hate in equal proportions.

Pleisure - Joy of doing nothing.

Plassitude - Laziness without guilt.

Oughty - Guilty but lazy anyhow.

Mopine - Muse on source of discontent.

Morosy - Concealing sadness with cheer.

Perseveerance - Procrastination via performing other tasks.

Bangst - Stress over diminishing funds.

Comreads - People who read a book at the same time.

Stressipe - A dish that's more trouble to cook than it's worth.

Chewsy - Likes or dislikes certain foods for texture alone.

Feditor - Someone who removes offending items from her meal.

Ingestigation - Close examination of repast; to examine thus.

Mespoke - Tailored to one's lifestyle.

Theratrooper - Friend who swoops in to commiserate.

Chumbrage - Irritation on a friend's behalf.

Pleasurrection - Gladness that one you thought was dead is alive.

Wordant - Spilling over with words.

Commentwary - Worried about posting in case a million people respond.

Sharanoia - Fear of what people are thinking of your posts.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Mehsi.
12.3k reviews373 followers
October 26, 2016
I love books about words, about people making up new words, about where words come from, and more. This book was a perfect fit for me, and I really enjoyed it a whole lot. I laughed my butt off during several words, and some words had me nodding along, totally agreeing with them. :)

Highly recommended!
Profile Image for Lauren.
366 reviews17 followers
May 26, 2016
I mean... It was alright. Like, just barely 3 stars. Here are some of my favorites (and/or the most relevant to my life):

Maditate: Become angrier by trying to calm down.
Theratrooper: Friend who swoops in to commiserate.
Chumbrage: Irritation on a friend's behalf.
Pleisure: The joy of doing nothing.
Bitrayal: Emotion occasioned by biting into a foodstuff you thought was another flavor.
Chewsy: Likes or dislikes certain foods for texture alone.
Profile Image for Vendela.
590 reviews
December 25, 2015
Hilarious and refreshingly diverse in poking fun at the current generation of 20-somethings.
Profile Image for BOOKLOVER EB.
733 reviews
May 15, 2017
Lizzie Skurnick's "That Should Be a Word" is an intriguing and droll lexicon of over two hundred and fifty neologisms. This imaginative and satirical book is an entertaining commentary on human foibles and modern times. For example, how many college grads desperately accept a "povertunity," a job with more status than salary? Is your partner "stardy," someone who habitually starts out late for appointments, driving you to lie about when a scheduled event begins? Are there people you "loave"— love and loathe? Here's some good news for single expectant moms: When nosy acquaintances ask about the father of your baby, tell them you're "indiepregnant." Is someone infuriating you, but you're not sure if you should respond in kind? You may be in a state of "doubtrage."

Adding to the charm of this whimsical and pun-filled dictionary are Janne Iivonen's minimalist illustrations; sentences that capture the essence of each word; and eye-catching graphics. The entries touch on a variety of topics, including love, parenting, pretentious yuppies, pompous bores, foodies, and our ridiculous obsession with electronic devices (a "plabor" checks her emails incessantly while she is supposedly on vacation). This quirky and inventive work of non-fiction offers a fresh and canny perspective on the pleasure and pain of contemporary living.
Profile Image for Ally.
11 reviews
July 25, 2017
Read sitting in the aisles of chapters, I loved it. I just wouldn't pay 22$ for it.
Profile Image for Carin.
Author 1 book103 followers
November 7, 2016
Occasionally it's good to throw in a lightweight book as a palate cleanser, just like a nice sorbet between courses. Especially if one has been reading the same history book diligently for a month now and never seems to get anywhere.

Lizzie Skurnick is someone I've long been a huge fan of, having loved her memoir Shelf Discovery, about YA novels she loved as a girl and that hold up over time. (It eventually inspired her to start an imprint at Ig Books, reissuing classic YA novels from the 70s and 80s.) She also used to write a column in the New York Times Magazine where she would make up words (entirely portmanteaus which is a word made by mashing two other words together like brunch.) This book compiles a few hundred of those words, sorted by subject, and it is laugh-out-loud funny. Marrieds will nod knowingly before even reading the definition of martyrmony. And how has fidgital—excessively checking one’s devices—not caught on? Mostly covering pop culture and everyday society, things such as children and household chores and social media, everyone can identify with Ms. Skurnick's hilariously made-up but oh-so-necessary new words. For anyone word obsessed (like me!) this book is a must-have, and would make a great gift.
Profile Image for Dane Cobain.
Author 28 books309 followers
May 9, 2015
Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review.

This is quite a fun little book, a self-proclaimed “language lover’s guide to choregasms, povertunity, brattling, and 250 other much-needed terms for the modern world.” Now, I’m not going to explain what those words mean, and I’m not going to tell you any of the others – if you want to know that, you’ll just have to go out and get it.

I don’t think this is a must-have, but it’s a pretty good laugh and a good way to pass the time on your commute. And there is one good thing about it – these are all inventions, and Lizzie doesn’t try to pass off existing neologisms as her own.
Profile Image for Doug Miles.
48 reviews2 followers
September 30, 2015
Are you guilty of being “Fidgital”, excessive checking of your electronic device? Or are you “Dready”, in a state of being always ready for the worst-case scenario? These are two examples of words that sound legitimate, but are the creation of Lizzie Skurnick author “That Should Be A Word, A Language Lover’s Guide to Choregasms, Povertunity, Brattling and 250 Other Much-Needed Terms for the Modern World”. It’s a fun read with humorous and entertaining examples of words that make sense and might one day be in the dictionary. Highly recommended.
I spoke with Lizzie Skurnick about her book and that conversation can be heard here:
Profile Image for Kristal Stidham.
694 reviews8 followers
May 17, 2015
I spent the first half of the book being disappointed that it wasn't funny like the Sniglets, then I realized that she was never trying to be humorous. Once I took the concept at face value -- that they're just words that people might possibly use -- I started to appreciate a few of them. The section about social media could easily catch on if enough people heard her proposed words. Not a book I would recommend to anyone for much other than bathroom reading.
Profile Image for Luella.
16 reviews12 followers
April 26, 2015
I won this book as a Goodreads First Reads giveaway. It was somewhat entertaining and sure did address the need for some words we do need today.

It had a varied mix of words, some universal and some that just really apply to NYC. But in all cases the words are a reflection of today's social norms and just for that alone it is a useful book.

Profile Image for Kerrikoala.
479 reviews
September 9, 2015
I wish I'd found this sooner, because it would have been a quick read for summer reading. Oh well. I can't say I'll be adding any of the words from this book to my vocabulary, and I'm actually a little sad that some of the words are needed. Plus some of the names (in the sample sentences) were really strange. It was okay overall, I guess.
Profile Image for Leah.
1,068 reviews18 followers
February 24, 2016
Clever and amusing, this is a perfect book t give to people who enjoy bathroom reading. It is only possible to absorb a couple words at a time. I can imagine a dinner game where people are invited to think of a definition for the word read aloud, and then the book definition is read aloud, points or extra strawberries to the winner of each round.
Profile Image for Melissa.
929 reviews15 followers
June 24, 2016
Pretty funny collection of fake words that SHOULD be real that apply to our modern life. Some of these words were really clever. Saw this on the shelf at my library and figured it would be one I could read (and put down) and read (and put down) when outside with the kids. It was perfect for that. :)
5 reviews
May 31, 2015
I won this book through Goodreads First Reads giveaway.

It was certainty an interesting book to read. It provided a good laugh here and there. Some words could definitely catch on if enough people used them in today's social setting.

It's a good book to read during spare time.
Profile Image for Sarah Hadd.
223 reviews7 followers
July 31, 2016
That should have been a desk calendar, not a book. Or maybe I just wasn't supposed to sit and read it in one sitting, maybe it's more of a bathroom reader. Anyway, I was pretty bored with the idea after the first 20 pages or so.
Profile Image for Carly Krewitsky.
596 reviews13 followers
June 26, 2015
This book was very funny. However, some of the definitions and sentences that were used to describe the words were confusing. Some of the sentences went over my head.
728 reviews4 followers
July 6, 2015
Cute. Kind of hard to digest as a book. Might be better served as a 'fake word of the day' calendar or something.
Profile Image for Leslie Hepburn.
13 reviews
October 20, 2015
I found this book very entertaining and would recommend it to other word fans. Skurnick is very creative and fun writer! Glad my friend found this gem and loaned it to me
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