Your Favorite Word

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Words are an author’s best friends. They give us pause to examine ourselves and refine our thinking. They’re not only the tools we use to build our stories, they are the machinery that runs the enterprise of civilization.

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Do you have a favorite word? I do, and I’ll tell you how I came to love it.

In the 1980’s, my husband, Frank, invented and patented a medical imaging device which he named the Kinestatic Charge Detector (KCD). If you’re interested, you can read the abstract of the original paper here.

The KCD worked on the principle of ions moving in one frame of reference, but stationary in another. To illustrate this principle, Frank coined the word “kinestatic” by combining “kinetic” (moving) with “static” (still). What a great word! To our knowledge, this word had never been used prior to his conceiving it.

Frank has often compared kinestasis (the noun form of the word) with walking up a down escalator. You’re moving in relation to the steps, but you’re stationary in relation to the outside world.

There are lots of other situations in everyday life that are kinestatic.  Do you walk on a treadmill? You’re kinestatic. In another context, do you ever find yourself rushing around all day doing things but accomplishing nothing? Kinestasis!

Of course, I was proud of Frank’s work, but I was especially amazed at the word he came up with. I asked him once if we should pursue getting his word into dictionaries, but he was busy and I was busy, so the matter dropped.

Fast-forward ten years or so. We were in England and stopped by Oxford one day when we serendipitously met an assistant to the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary! As a great believer that Providence steps in when we are too lazy to get something done ourselves, I of course assumed this was the moment “kinestatic” would find its rightful place in the English language.

I eagerly explained Frank’s beautiful word (he was too modest to self-promote), and the editor’s assistant thought it sounded interesting. However, she noted, “the word has to be in common usage.” Hmm. I wondered if biomedical engineering academia would qualify as “common usage.”

She and Frank exchanged contact information and over the next couple of months, they emailed back and forth so he could explain more and she could research. Unfortunately, “kinestatic” didn’t meet the lamentably rigid usage standards of the OED. So there.

But it’s still my favorite word, and I’ve decided to include it in every novel I write. It’s sort of like an Easter egg. I plant the word in a sentence, and every editor that sees the manuscript says, “that word is not in the dictionary.” Then I explain why it’s there, and everybody’s happy.

I’m still waiting for the day when the OED and other dictionaries will recognize the genius of Frank’s word. Every now and then I google “kinestatic.” Google changes the search to “kinesthetic,” and I change it back to “kinestatic.” There are a few entries now outside the medical imaging field, so maybe the word is moving toward widespread usage.

Who knows? Maybe 2022 will be the year when the OED editor will step off his treadmill and wonder why we don’t have a word to describe running in place.

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TKZers: Tell us about your favorite word or words. Have you ever made up a word? Or used a word that’s not in the dictionary because it fits the occasion? Tell us your experiences.

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About Kay DiBianca

Kay DiBianca is a former software developer and IT manager who retired to a life of mystery. She’s the award-winning author of three mystery novels, The Watch on the Fencepost, Dead Man’s Watch, and Time After Tyme. Connect with Kay on her website at

46 thoughts on “Your Favorite Word

  1. Good morning, Kay. Thanks for sharing that very interesting story. I’ve never “met” or been one person removed from someone who invented a word. Interestingly enough, I read your piece right after finishing my morning treadmill routine, so I was kinestatic wen I read it. Who knew?

    I have a favorite word but I can’t use it here. Thanks for the invitation, however.

    • Hahaha. I guess we all have some favorite words that are better left unspoken. 🙂

      I was on the treadmill last night watching the movie “Words and Pictures.” Have you seen it? It’s the story of an ongoing dispute between an English teacher (Clive Owen) and an art teacher (Juliette Binoche) about which is more important: words or pictures. Owen has some eloquent lines about language and words, and he even has his class make up words in one scene. I had seen the movie years ago, but it’s funny I noticed it on Amazon Prime just this week.

  2. Interesting post, Kay. Great story about “Kinestatic” and “Kinestasis.” Congratulations to you and your husband.

    I’ve never invented any words. I thought I had in the mid 1960’s when I combined delicious and luscious to make “deluscious” and use it to describe my mother’s cherry delight dessert, my favorite dessert. But, alas, I see the word is in the Urban dictionary. I have also used politician’s names to create new names for diseases, but those aren’t new words, just new (appropriate) usage, and not appropriate for this refined community.

    Since it is the norm (in the English language) that every noun must also be turned into a verb, maybe if you come up with a verb form of Kinestatic (? kinestate, kinestating) then use it in your books and all your blogs and tweets, maybe you can get others to use it to describe their exercise in front of the TV (Nordic Trak, treadmill, etc. etc.) Maybe Nordic Trak will pay you to use the word in their commercials; “A new refined form of kinestatic exercise. Come kinestate with us, and for $47 a month, you’ll be kinestating all over the world.”

    Great post. Have a great week. And I hope your running is not kinestatic.

    • Good morning, Steve. I love your idea of giving politician’s names to diseases. What an ingenious idea! A true in-vent-ion.

      Great idea about Nordic Trak. But do you suppose they’d use a word that basically means you can run all day, but you won’t get anywhere?

      I bet your mother loved it when you called her dessert “deluscious.”

  3. My late father made up words to suit him all the time. It’s one of the fondest memories I have of him. Verkrenched. Ptcharlbd.

    I’ve been known to readjust words in my books as needed, although some come from tacking suffixes on to existing words.
    I know what Kyle did was first-class jerkery.
    She printed her passport in case her phone wonked out.
    We have achieved mappage!

    The only dictionary any of my words will end up in is my Word program, where when you get the red squiggles, you have the option to “Add to Dictionary.”

    And I think your father’s word is cool!

    • Love your father’s words, Terry, and the ones you created for your books.

      You never know when a word will make its way into common usage. Who would have thought we would “google” to search online? You made me wonder what new words have made it into the dictionaries lately. I found “metaverse” and “crowdfunding.” But my new favorite is inspired by the Covid pandemic: “staycation.”

      • I’m sure ‘staycation’ antedates Covid. I googled it and found it was on Wankerpedia: “According to a Connecticut travel blog, the word “staycation” was originally coined by Canadian comedian Brent Butt in the television show Corner Gas, in the episode “Mail Fraud”, which first aired October 24, 2005.”

  4. In 6th grade our teacher had us do an exercise where we would choose two words and combine them to make a new word. I chose stupid and dumb and came up with stumb. I’m still pleased with myself…and it seems, as time has passed, the word has become ever more applicable in certain contexts.

  5. Well, I’ve been known to come up with new words on occasion… usually when I’m tired, excited, or trying to sound erudite. If you happen to be my first round editor, you’d say my favorite word is “just.” I just really like it (see what I did there). Other than that, I’ve never considered a favorite word. They say, and I concur, that the most beautiful sound we ever hear is our name on the lips of a loved one. Does that count? You have given me something to contemplate today.

    • Good morning, Lori! So glad to see you here.

      What a wonderful thought that the most beautiful word we ever hear is our name on the lips of a loved one. That definitely counts.

      I went with a group of people to visit the Memphis School for the Deaf a few years ago and the staff explained to us a procedure to help children who were born deaf. A device was implanted in the child’s ear (I can’t remember the exact details). After the operation, when the child was awake and alert, they would turn the device on in the presence of the child’s parents, and the first word the child would hear would be his/her name spoken by the mother. I teared up when I heard that.

      • Cochlear implant. One of my cousin’s daughter was born deaf and received an implant. The tax accountant I go to now has an implant too. He tried to “sell it” me on it, but my hearing impairment is the auditory nerve, not the inner ear.

  6. Kinestatic should definitely make the dictionary, Kay. It’s the state of being that many of us find ourselves in often.

    Does this qualify as kinestatic? Have you ever used an automatic touchless car wash where you pull into a bay and put the car in park on a treadle? That activates a big metal arch studded with spray nozzles that slowly moves back and forth over the car, shooting soap and water as you sit stationary. It’s disorienting b/c you feel as if you’re moving b/c of the motion of the arch. Yet you’re still.

    Maybe that’s anti-kinestatic?

    • Anti-kinestatic! You’ve added a new dimension.

      I never thought of that, but going through one of those car washes is the exact opposite of being on a treadmill. (You just reminded me — my car needs to visit a car wash soon.)

    • “Kinestatic” yields 23,700 hits on the Google. Here’s just one:

      “Open surgical, percutaneous and transcatheter cardiac procedures require a thorough knowledge of human anatomy and topographical relations of various anatomical structures. The possibility of having a physical 3D model goes beyond closer inspection with kinestatic learning and actually facilitates the practice of surgical procedures87 resulting in a number of impactful studies in this field.”

  7. Thanks for sharing the history of Kinestatic, Kay. Love the word and love that you include it in every book. My husband mangles the English language to tease me, but I’ve never used one of his “new” words in a WIP. LOL

    • Good morning, Sue!

      You should definitely give your husband’s words some “page time.”

      You gave me an idea: a character who repeatedly mangles the language in dialogue. That could be fun.

      Have a great day.

  8. Kinestatic is a wonderful word.

    One of my favorite words is boot. It’s short, quick, and fun to pronounce. I featured “boot” in a microfiction published several years ago in a small Southern literary magazine. Here is the first l-o-n-g sentence:

    “Boot,” she named her daughter, because she liked how it sounded, how the first three letters puckered her voice into a whispery kiss, how the “t” clipped the kiss short lest her voice tumble into mushiness over her only child, born as she and her husband approached middle age.

    • Good morning, Truant!

      That’s an amazing sentence. You’ve given us a complete picture of the mother, her love of her child, and her life circumstances all in less than 50 words. And you’ve changed forever my feeling about the word “boot.” Bravo!

      I also have words that I’m particularly fond of. One of them is “azure.” The sound of the word combined with the image of a cloudless blue sky makes me smile.

      Thanks for sharing your work.

    • “Boots” is certainly a popular pet name. In public school chorus, I learned the importance of the alveolar sound when singing words that end in “t.” In “The Music of the Night” I always listen for that “t” in that final soaring and glorious “night.” It always makes me smile.

  9. Good morning, Kay. Kinestatic. What a cool word your husband came up with! It’s a terrific descriptor and deserves to be in more common usage. Very cool that you use it in every book. Now that you mention it, I think I recall encountering it “Time After Tyme.” It rolls right off the tongue.

    One of my favorite words is a Pacific Northwestern-ism: “Spendy.” I use it all the time. “That’s too spendy.” I prefer it to “expensive.” I came up with “buckage” when I was younger, building off the term bucks for money and combining it with the -age from “wattage”, as in “we’d need a lot of “buckage” to pay for that car. It might be ridiculous, but I used to use it all the time 🙂

    Thanks for a very fun post that got today off to a fine start!

    • Good morning, Dale.

      “Spendy” is a great word — and very appropriate for the times. It’s cute and serious at the same time. I imagine I’ll be using it a lot.

      I also like “buckage.” (Autocorrect is having a field day with these words today.)

  10. I love words, yes I do!

    I don’t recall making up any words, aside from Hankiness, which is what Hank’s fifteen-year-old sister, Mayra, calls his thirteen-year-old quirks in one of my WIPs.

    But I do have some favorite words. The most recent is whigmaleerie. Just rolls off the tongue, right? 🙂

    • Good morning, Deb!

      You got me. I’d never heard of “whigmaleerie” and even doubted it was a real, dictionarious word, but there it is in I wonder if I’ll ever find a place to use that word in a book.

      I like “Hankiness.” Teenagers are probably the ones who come up with most of the new words.

  11. Snoosin, Kay. As in snoosin around. Or to explore. You know, check things out.

    My wife and I use “snoosin around” a lot when we decide what to do on a day off. “Ah, let’s just go snoosin around,” she’ll say. I love the word, but I can’t take credit for manufacturing it. That honor goes to old Otto Nissin, a Dane who lived in the little town I grew up in. You gotta love hearing “snoosin around” spoken with a Danish accent.

    • Good morning, Garry.

      Thanks to you and Otto for “snoosin around.” It’s a perfectly descriptive word. I guessed what it meant before I read your explanation.

      I think many families have words that only the members of the family use. We have several. One of them is “negatrons,” a light-hearted way to say “no.” As in:

      “Isn’t it your turn to take the trash out?”
      “Negatrons. I did it last week.”

      Hope you get some snoosin in today.

  12. My husband’s family gave odd nicknames to everyone. One of his aunts was called Dommer because she reminded everyone of a Dominique (pronounced Dominicker around here) chicken. Another was called Pedro because she was never still and raced around all the time as a child. Another was called Beadie, which wasn’t a shortened version of her name– Beatrice, but because she had beady eyes.

    • Nicknames are (usually) great fun.

      We have a godchild named Kay. Her parents are Italian, living in Rome. When we went over for her baptism, there was some discussion about how we would differentiate when talking about her or me. I didn’t care for “Big Kay” and “Little Kay.” Even less for “Old Kay” and “Young Kay.” But our Italian friends came up with the perfect solution. Our godchild is “Kay Piccolo.” I’m “Kay Grande.” Now that I like.

  13. Some time, we need to tell our favorite spellchecker fight. Yesterday’s post taught me that “McGuffin” should be “McMuffin.” That has such a nice change. It means Humphrey Bogart in THE MALTESE FALCOM was looking for breakfast. Aren’t we all?

    My favorite word is four letters, too, but it’s so common very few people respect its power which both saves us and gives life meaning. “Love.” No other explanation needed for those who understand the word deep inside our gut.

  14. Brodenkos ond Brodenkas: Yes, I love words. Yes, I make them up. My dystopian novel takes place in Deresthia, and I sprnkled a few Deresthok terms therein. “Splatka nin” is “no thanks.” “Shtandrek nuss,” means “I don’t understand.” But “nuss” is the impolite form of “not,” so MC Horus Blassingame corrects himself with: “Shtandrek nin.”

    Before his trip, Horus spent months back in Albion learning what he thought was urban Deresthok. It turns out, his tutor taught him only the rural dialect. Oopska!

    I’ll leave the meaning of “hoskaplop” to your imaginations.

    • Oopska! I better stay away from Deresthia. There’s no telling what trouble I would get into.

      Great words, though. I can’t imagine coming up with a new language.

      • Splatka, brodenka! Horus discovers, or, more accurately, is discovered by many opportunities to get in trouble in Deres-Thorm, where there is no such thing as a true map of the city . . . or anything else.

        The secret to creating a new language is two words: RUN AWAY! A light touch of made-up terms sufficeth. Don’t dabble in degations and conjuclensions or linguistic whigmaleerie. There are writers who have done this. They write home in crayon, now.

  15. I’m German-born, so stitching together words is second nature to us Krauts. Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung, anyone? Or, remember those VW ads from the early ’90s?: Fahrvergnügen? (brilliant)

    But one of my favorite neologisms is: PHOOZL. In fact, I use it as the name of my LLC. Google it and you’ll only find 552 results total. And half of those are mine.

    • Good afternoon, Harald.

      Your website looks great. I love the comparison of Manhattan, 1609 with the island today. But I think the best photo is of the Wright brothers. I made a video dedicated to them.

      Okay, I still don’t understand PHOOZL. Explain please.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your input.

      • Thanks for commenting about my site, Kay. And I, too, love that Wright Bros image. I’ve been there and run along exactly where you see them. Maybe you have, too.

        Re: the meaning of PHOOZL… it’s a mystery that will remain so 😉

    • It gets harder every year to think up unique names for imprints, etc. I finally settled on Wyzard Hill Press, after trying the most unlikely names I could imagine–Aguanga, Barstow, Tehachapi–all taken.

      Phoozl is excellent.

  16. The only time I remember inventing a word was when I did a more poetry writing. Cascadences, to describe a waterfall.

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