16 Delightful Made-Up Words

Illustrator Rinee Shah is attempting to form a definitive catalogue of the words we share with family and friends.

Rinee tells BuzzFeed her website came about after watching The West Wing:

A few years ago, I did an illustration project called Seinfood, and my favorite part about it was that people were sharing it with their friends and family because of a shared nostalgia from watching the show together. I was recently watching an old episode of The West Wing, and one of the characters said a strange word and then said he realized that it was probably just a word his mother made up, and it occurred to me that that probably happens to people all the time.

1. Gotchies.

Underwear. (noun) ghot-chees. “He stripped down to his gotchies”

- Maura M., Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania

2. The Quincy.

A small defect in our bathtub. Like a small brown burn mark (noun) kwin-zee.

Somehow, it became known as “The Quincy.” We tried to avoid touching it. I remember sitting in the tub terrified of it. My mom would say “It’s just The Quincy, it won’t hurt you.”

- Robbie W., Riverside, California

3. Chicken milk.

Water (noun) chik-uhn milk. “As a child I only wanted milk, so my dad gave me water but called it chicken milk.”

- Ivan C., Marlboro, New York

4. Yonies.

Good vibes that you send out. (noun) yoh-nees. “Send good yonies, Timmy’s dad is in the hospital.”

- Drew H., Menlo Park, California

5. Debo.

Large wooden spoon (noun) dee-boh. “Can you hand me the debo so I can stir the soup?”

- Roseanne O., Libertyville, Illinois

6. Dupa.

Butt (noun) Doo-pah. “Check your dupa, I think you sat in something.”

- Maura M., Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania

7. Barking Spider.

Fart (noun) bahrk-ing spy-der. “Timmy, did you smell that barking spider?”

- Kevin R., Newport Beach, California

8. Skonk.

Old person shit-talking during a card game (usually rummy or euchre).
(verb) skonk. “I’m gonna skonk you!”

- Tamara L., Prescott, Arizona

9. Frubie.

Buzzed from drinking, but not drunk. (noun) froo-bee. “I’m feeling a little frubie from that third beer.”

- Matt B., Minneapolis, Minnesota

10. Schmerfed.

To vomit (verb) sch-merrft. “Timmy schmerfed all over the couch and passed out on the bathroom floor.”

- Jonathan W., Austin, Texas


You’re in trouble! (exc) pah-stuh fah-jaw-law. “My grandma always said it in a raised voice. We thought it was a bad word so we’d say it to other kids at the park when we were mad at them and we always got weird looks. I realized later that it means pasta and beans in Italian. ”

- Katherine R., Playa del Rey, California

12. Deli-shoes.

Via Rinee Shah / madeupwordsproject.com

Delicious (adjective) del-ee shoos. “This hamburger is deli-shoes.”

- David K., Los Angeles, California

13. Chanks.

Sandals; Spanglish version of the word “chancletas,” (noun) changks. “Timmy, put on your chanks, we’re going to the beach!”

- Billy G., Manhattan Beach, California

14. Bang.

Poop (noun) bang. “The cat made a bang and it’s your turn to clean the litter box.”

- Laura S., Palo Alto, California

15. Geedunks.

A junky snack food (noun) gee-duhngk. “We’ve got some geedunks on the kitchen counter if you want a snack.”

- Matt W., San Diego, California

16. Boss of the Peas.

An authoritative ranking to one-up my mother, who was the self-proclaimed “Boss of the Applesauce (noun) Boss of the pees. “Look who thinks he’s Boss of the Peas.”

- Ryan D., Grapevine, Texas

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Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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