As I was poking around on the New York Times, I came across the article 24 New Words Invented by Teenagers. Naturally, it had me considering our own vocabularies and how sometimes we can spend so long in our classrooms helping students search and search to find the right descriptive word for their writing.
While I read the article, I remembered a craft move I had seen Rudy Francisco make in his book of poetry called I’ll Fly Away, where he comes up with his own word and defines it for the things where he feels like the English language fails to describe it properly.
These two things got me thinking about how great of an activity this could be to get students warmed up to using descriptive language and exploring the best ways to describe things in their own writing, while also playing with the language and considering their own vocabularies.
How could this be used in the classroom?
- Use the words on the NYT article as mentor texts 24 New Words Invented by Teenagers – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
- Have conversations about situations/feelings that need a new describing word.
- Think about recent examples of Neologisms (made up words) that they may know that have started to gain popularity and understanding as part of our daily language: “cheugy”, “doomscroll”, “staycation”, “funcle”, “rizz”
Use this in a morphology lesson to talk about the way the created words have meaning from their parts, just like other words.
- Ask your class to invent their own describing words and write a definition for them.
- Have them try to use their new words in sentences.
This could be such a fun activity to incorporate into a writing lesson. If you give this a try, we would love to hear of any words that your students come up with and their definitions!