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Book Review: Family Words, the Secret Language of Families

Remember Rich Hall? 

He was the comedian known for the “Sniglets” he presented on Saturday Night Live.  A Sniglet is a made-up word that he used to describe something that didn’t already exist in the dictionary… but should.

An example:  “bugpedal” – the act of speeding up or slowing down your car in order to use the resulting passing wind to remove a dead bug from the windshield.

But Sniglets are made-up words. A comedy act.  Nobody expects to use those terms in the real world.

Except in the real world, people do make up words in their families for everyday use.  The remote control is a “clicker”, “remote”, “controller”, “switcher”.  A wheeled trash bin is a “herbie curbie”.  Some of these terms may be obvious to the casual bystander who overhears a family conversation, but other terms may need some explaining.

FAMILY WORDS: A DICTIONARY OF THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF FAMILIES is a compilation of all those terms that may be familiar to one family, but unheard of elsewhere.  Some examples include:

  • Applaudience:  an audience that has come to applaud; specifically, the parents and grandparents of the recital’s participants.
  • Gurker: a rubber sink stopper, named for the sound it makes when its pulled from the drain
  • Huggle: a combination of “hug” and “snuggle”

The most commonly submitted word to the editors:  schnipple, the definition of which differs from family to family.  You will have to read the book to get all the different variations of it that were submitted.

I know one family that uses the word “nockle” to describe a house that has been overly decorated for a holiday (as in “they really nockled up that house”).  Feel free to take that one and spread it around to others on your own, since that term didn’t make it into the book.