Using Words for Fun and Profit

Our job as marketers usually requires using words to communicate, sell, motivate and inform. Sometimes we just run out of them and have to make them up.

And popular culture is fickle. It is never satisfied with existing words and phrases, so we constantly evolve and create new words to describe things that perhaps never existed before this decade. Or maybe they did, and we could not describe them.

Marketing has produced a lot of words that are simply made up. They are called neologisms.

Here are some of my favorites. You may recognize many of them. And you can use them to make your marketing better, more fun and more effective. Maybe you can come up with some of your own also.

  • Tweet Cred – Your social standing on Twitter.
  • 404 – Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error message “404 Not Found” meaning that the requested document could not be located.
  • Crowdsourcing – Getting a large group of people to invest in a project
  • Spam – Flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it.
  • Geobragging – Repeated status updates noting your location in an attempt to get attention or make other people jealous.
  • Noob – Someone who is new to an online community or game.
  • Troll – An individual who posts inflammatory, rude, and obnoxious comments to an online community.
  • Ego Surfer – A person who boosts his ego by searching for his own name on Google and other search engines.
  • Muffin Top – This refers to the (often unsightly) roll of fat that appears on top of trousers that feature a low waist.
  • Stitch ‘N’ Bitch – A gathering of individuals who chat or gossip while knitting or crocheting.
  • Chillax – To calm down or relax, it is a slang term used when someone is starting to get uptight about something that is happening.
  • Staycation – A vacation at home or in the immediate local area.

Neologism Competition

Every year The Washington Post runs an annual competition. Readers of the newspaper are asked to submit alternative meanings to existing words. The results are usually of very amusing. Here are examples of  Washington Post contest results —

  1. Coffee (n.), the person upon whom one coughs.
  2. Flabbergasted (adj.), appalled over how much weight you have gained.
  3. Abdicate (v.), to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
  4. Esplanade (v.), to attempt an explanation while drunk.
  5. Willy-nilly (adj.), erectile dysfunction.
  6. Negligent (adj.), describes a condition in which you absentmindedly answer the door in your nightgown.
  7. Gargoyle (n.), olive-flavored mouthwash.
  8. Flatulance (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run overby a steamroller.
  9. Balderdash (n.), a rapidly receding hairline.
  10. Testicle (n.), a humorous question on an exam.
  11. Rectitude (n.), the formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
  12. Frisbeetarianism (n.), The belief that when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

If there is one other type of word that marketers can use effectively, it’s the Oxymoron. Oxymorons are used to create some sort of drama or make you stop and think. Here are some good examples:

  • Great Depression
  • Jumbo Shrimp
  • Cruel To Be Kind
  • Pain For Pleasure
  • Clearly Confused
  • Act Naturally
  • Beautifully Painful
  • Painfully Beautiful
  • Deafening Silence
  • Pretty Ugly
  • Pretty Fierce
  • Pretty Cruel
  • Definitely Maybe
  • Living Dead
  • Only Choice
  • Alone Together
  • Virtual Reality
  • Random Order
  • Original Copy
  • Awfully Good
  • Awfully Delicious
  • Open Secret
  • Passive Aggressive
  • Wake Up Dead
  • Sweet Agony

Choose wisely— neologism, oxymorons or just straight talk, the right words can help you sell. The wrong ones will keep your products on the shelf.


About The Author

  • Author | George Farris
George Farris is CEO and Senior Brand Coach at Farris Marketing. Email questions and comments to GFF@FarrisMarketing.com and connect with George on LinkedIn using the icons above.

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