Chances are pretty good that you’re familiar with some of the phrases from Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky” even if you don’t know the poem by heart (or by name). Maybe you’ve heard word “chortle,” for example, which Carroll coined to suggest something between a chuckle and a snort. It’s a fun (if here and there a little unsettling) little nonsense poem that does a great job of insinuating meaning with made-up words. There can be little doubt that the “beamish boy” returning triumphantly home in a “galumphing” way is bounding or galloping, even though “galumphing” wasn’t a word before Carroll invented it.
If, like the boy awaiting his foe the Jabberwock, you find yourself “in uffish thought” as you await inspiration for your next post, consider playing with nonsense words. It can be a great way to think about the rhythm of your writing without getting caught up in that pesky bear trap of meaning. It can also help you pay closer attention to the ways in which we form different parts of speech. Adverbs and adjectives and nouns are often constructed differently and fit together differently, and working with the forms minus the meaning can provide a neat perspective on the language.