February Vocabulary Challenge: Invent a Word

“Of all the factors that transform how we communicate, none are so powerful as young people, who have always steered language,” writes book critic Parul Sehgal.

Our February Vocabulary Challenge invites middle and high school students to suggest a new word of their own. In the comments, tell us what your word means and why you think it’s an important addition to an evolving language. We plan to publish the winner as our Word of the Day on April 1, otherwise known as April Fool’s Day.

Need inspiration? Check out our lesson plan about a Twitter account that tracks new words as they appear in The New York Times, and a collection of Times articles about the expansion of language that you can find at the bottom of this post.

Find more opportunities to practice vocabulary in our calendar of Vocabulary Challenges, and share any questions or feedback with us at LNFeedback@nytimes.com.

We are looking for a creative, memorable new word that fills a clear gap in the English language. Since the winning word will be published as a Word of the Day, we hope to select a word that we can imagine ourselves, and others, using.

You may create a new word by combining parts of existing words, as in the portmanteaus “doomscrolling,” “friends” and “removal,” which have all appeared in The New York Times. Or, you may devise something entirely new to describe a situation, category or feeling we do not have a word for yet. (“Cheugy” is a recent example.)

Submit your new word in a comment on this post by Feb. 28, 2022. Your comment should contain the following:

  • Your new word, which should not already be in circulation, even locally, and must have never appeared in The Times. Check by entering your word, in quotation marks, into the search bar on NYTimes.com.

  • Its definition

  • An example sentence that you can imagine reading in The Times.

  • A brief explanation of why this word would be a valuable addition to the English language.

  • Submit your entry as a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time on Feb. 28.

  • You may work alone, in pairs, in small groups or as a whole class, but we allow only one entry per student. If you work as a group or whole class, indicate that by submitting under a group name (“Ms. B’s 3rd period”; “The Word Wizards,” etc.) rather than listing every student. If you win, we will contact you for individual names.)

  • Minimum Age Requirements: Middle and high school students ages 13 and older in the United States and Britain, and 16 and older elsewhere, can submit by commenting on this post. Teachers and parents can submit on behalf of students in middle or high school who do not meet these age requirements. If you are submitting on behalf of a student, please include the student’s name at the bottom of the comment.

  • Remember, you cannot edit your entry once it has been submitted.

How does language grow and change over time? Explore more with these New York Times articles and Learning Network teaching resources on the expansion of language.

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