Feb 25

Words Missing from the English Language

Word cloud of the site, created using Tagul

A word cloud of cheekyginger.com as of today. I created it using the amazing free tool Tagul. I LOVE THE INTERNET.

According to the OED, there are more than 170,000 English words in current usage. I freely admit that I do not know all of them; regardless, I think there are still words missing from the English language. Is any other tongue better at this kind of thing? I think maybe German is. I love English; it’s my mother tongue, and it is a thing of beauty. But. It is also a thing of torment. Ergo, here, submitted for your approval, is a short list of concepts for which I believe we have no words.

  1. The half-shame, half-smug feeling one gets from finally completing an unpleasant task that had been left undone for far too long. Bertha* felt ________ after cleaning out the science experiments, dried sauces, and newly developed life forms from the refrigerator, so she decided to stuff her guilt/reward her efforts by scarfing half a quart of chocolate ice cream.
  2. The weird goose bump shivers that occasionally crawl up the spine and arms when getting in a hot car on a summer’s day.
  3. The infuriating realization, near the end of an hour-long meeting, that the entire thing could have been handled by a five-minute email.
  4. That burning feeling in the back of the nose after half-inhaling swimming pool water. Why do children think the pool is so much fun? The day always seems to end in painful sunburn, unpleasantly tangled hair, and having had at least one episode of ________.
  5. The mysterious tendency of teaspoons to be slowly, inexorably, permanently reabsorbed into the fabric of the universe.
  6. The first time a tween cracks a joke that is funny on an adult level; the maiden voyage of humor.
  7. The mad rush to complete a task before the microwave timer goes off.
  8. The disappointment, tinged with satisfaction, that one feels after finishing a very good book, esp. one populated with nearly living people. Evelyn felt ________ as she closed The Story of Edgar Sawtelle for the last time. She thought, “It will be a while before I read another book as good as that one.” 
  9. The heady sense, often persisting for days, that the reality of said book is somehow more substantial than that of the physical world.

If I am wrong and some or all of these words do exist, and I freely admit that such a thing is not only possible but likely, please do let me know in the comments section. I’m a big girl. I can take it. Even if the words are not English, that’s totally fine. We stole all our words anyway. Besides, knowing more words can’t be a bad thing. (Unless it’s a word used only to summon an unstoppable planet-eating demon from the netherworld. I don’t want to know any words like that, please.)

*Some names have been changed to protect the … Well, names have been changed. That’s the point. Never you mind exactly why.


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  1. Julie

    I think number two is called ‘rendering’.

    1. Evelyn Stice

      I think you made that up. Rendering is … well. It has several meanings, but I don’t find that as one of them. I looked in the OED. Maybe you mean something else? I would really like for at least one of these things to have a word.

      1. Julie

        It was a joke.

        The shivers are the fat melting underneath your skin.

        Because, you know, it’s hot.

        *shifty eyes*


        1. Evelyn Stice

          Oh. So. I totally knew that.

        2. Evelyn Stice

          That’s a pretty sick joke, by the way.

          Good job.

  2. Samantha Gluck

    Hi Evelyn,

    Love this post! I think number 6 is called “humerty”


    1. Evelyn Stice

      Thanks! I … I think you might be right. And if it isn’t true, it should be.

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