21 June 2010


One of several books on my bedside table at the moment is 'Made in America: An informal history of the English language in the United States'.  It's by the ridiculously readable Bill Bryson and is full of intriguing facts and all-round amusement.

In one part he talks about the veritable flood of words and phrases that were coined by Americans in the nineteenth century - gems like 'to go the whole hog'; 'to talk turkey'; 'highfalutin' and 'hornswoggle' (I have no idea what that last one means but it makes me laugh, and that's good).

Sadly, many of the Americanisms that appeared at this time are no longer in use, namely the simply brilliant happify (which is that act of making someone happy, clearly).

Happify!  It's a wonderful, smile-making word don't you think?  Well, I do think, so I am starting a campaign to bring it back into general usage.  Expect to see it scattered about my blog posts and twitter up dates willy-nilly from here on.

Perhaps you might join me?  You could slip it casually into your next conversation?  Or maybe write it the next time you're stuck for something to say on a birthday card?

Together we can happify the English language, just a little!


  1. i'm on board with this plan! happify is a brilliant word. also, that book sounds great. i love etymology! (yeah i know, get a load of the nerd! haha)

  2. Yippee - I love discovering a fellow word nerd! I realised I was a lost cause when I tweeted about playing scrabble over cocktails one Saturday night...

  3. Haha! Happify is and excellent word. I promise to thrown it into a conversation or two!

  4. oh how embarrassment...i made a typo in the company of two word nerds!

  5. ah but Alfalky - you realised you made a typo! And that gives you honorary word nerd status.

  6. reading your blog happified me, I will lend my weight to reintroducing the word to the English language

  7. I love this word but how can it be used correctly?

    I'm a wannabe word nerd, although I love Scrabble myself I'm only able to make out words like 'cat > ape > poo (you can the idea)

    Also I think we have this book kicking around but its called 'the mother tongue' or something but its the same concept & same author...odd!

  8. I could be quite wrong but I've been using it in place of 'makes me happy' - so something like 'chocolate happifies me', or 'I bought a dog treat to happify Elfi' could work?

    Ah yes, I think 'The Mother Tongue' is about the English language in general, this one is about how 'American' developed differently to 'English'...I think I've read the other one too, being the word nerd I am!

  9. ps. I bet you are way better at Scrabble than you make out!

  10. ahh my first thought was 'I want to happify you' (because you mentioned using it in a card) which I realised might sound aggressive aha totally the opposite effect really....

    Without a time limit I'm not so bad at scrabble but with ANY time limit I panic and just put out the first/easiest words that spring to mind like poo aha!


Your comments make me happier than you could possibly imagine. Really! Thank you.