English has a long and noble history of turning phrases into words. From ancient times (“every” <OE æfre ælc, ‘ever each’), to less ancient times (“nevertheless” <MidE neuer þe lesse), to very recently (“wannabe” from “want to be”). These words which are (were) concentated phrases, I call “phrasewords”.

There are many “plain” English equivalents of Greco-Latin or French words which are phrasal with no phraseword form. For example, “to imagine” or “mentally picture” can be rendered “to see in one’s mind’s eye”. I think we can phraseword this as “mind-see”. A phraseword I’ve been using for years now is “forelast”, meaning “penultimate”, derived from the phrase, “the one before the last one”.

It seems that when you start to look into it, there are many such plain English phrases with Greek-Latin-French one word counterparts which we could readily form phrasewords from. This is a kind of extended type of making noun forms of phrasal verbs: get away (verb) –> get-away (noun).

How many phrasewords can you think of?

14 Responses to Phrasewords

  1. þ says:

    I’ve lately been held by thoughts of words like “wannabe”, made with helping deedwords or the like, of which there are a few. “A must-see film”, “must-buy clothes”, “a must-read book”, “a can-do outlook”, “a can’t-win game”, are among those that I’ve seen. I wonder if this could be broadened to make a whole slew of new words.

    Also, I have a little word-crush on “also-ran”, which I think is kinda sweet.

    • bryanajparry says:

      “Also-ran” is nice. I almost mentioned “must-X” and others, but I thought I shouldn’t ramble. The key with phrasewords is to not come up with words that are too clunky or too business-speaky. A tricky line to walk at times.

  2. Amidstmost says:

    faregoer – (commuters, travelers, voyagers)
    heed: hadn’t an inkling that ‘faregoer’ is unfound in dictionaries, so must of been swayed by “fairgoers” which IS found in dictionaries. Reckon most British folk on either hearing or seeing ‘faregoer’ would think it a longtime dictionary word.

    footshopper – (pedestrian)
    swayed by the newfangled deed of ‘online homeshopping’ Heed: even though footshopper mighten fullso stand-in for “pedestrian” it often still does somehow.

    dinmaker – (noisemaker)
    neither ‘dinmaker’ ‘dinmaking’ seem to be in dictionaries though loads of folks on the web seem to understand it’s meaning.

    blingfallen – (crestfallen)
    blingfallen mighten only fully overset the ‘loss of wealth’ meaning rather than the ‘loss of position in society’ meaning of “crestfallen” but any ongoing wearing down of the *crest* bit of “crestfallen” in the meantime is worthwhile – that is how I reckon on these things anyway.

    alikemate – (contemporary, cohort, similar)
    ‘alikemate’ follows on well from words like: “helpmate” “roommate” “flatmate” teammate” and so forth…

    longfather – (ancestor)
    though seldom neither seen nor heard “longfather” is an attested word.

    • bryanajparry says:

      Hi there, Amidstmost, many thanks indeed for your response. Just a small point: your contributions aren’t really “phrasewords”, but no matter! They’re interesting contributions, so why not let’s talk about them here in any case?
      (remember, “phraseword” is what I’m calling phrases which have been squadged up into one word, e.g., know-how, must-have, wannabe)

      I didn’t know that “longfather” was attested. It’s a pretty interesting word. Altho I can’t find it in the OED… Anyway, I’d rather “forebear”, however, as it is still widely used.

      “Footshopper” is good, but remember that “pedestrian” also just means a person who goes on foot (that is, a ‘footgoer’ or ‘walker’).

      “Bling” is a word I can’t really take seriously. Sorry!

      I have to say, some interesting contributions and thank you for bringing them to my attention.

      I’m curious, by the way: why “mightEN”?

      • Amidstmost says:

        Hullo again Bryan,

        I upheld “longfather” as *attested* in so far as it is *listed* under ‘ancestor’ or somesuch, in my: ‘ROGET’S *THESAURUS* OF ENGLISH WORDS AND PHRASES, BY ROBERT A. DUTCH’

        Moreso than “footshopper” I meant to write: “footfarer” for (pedestrian) Anyway, hope both “footgoer” and “footfarer” wear down the usesage of”pedestrian”

        Think I was somehow writing “Mighten” for ‘maybe’ or ‘perhaps’ and thought it a true word rather than a misspelling of “mightn’t”

        I am still wont to go for “blingfallen” over “crestfallen” wherever the later FLaGish word should be happened upon on talkboards and so forth. It’s worth having a crack at spreading the “bling-” bit as a stand-in for the “crest-” bit in “crestfallen” even if just for the sake of onharrying FLagness. Reckon someone out there might take it up.
        Until something with a better thwack comes along, I’m wholly happy to slight a FLaGishlike word like: “crestfallen” with such a cheap, rough or lowbrow stand-in.
        Unforeknown to myself, “Chapfallen” seems one of the more alikemost, or at least straightforward (in shape) of “crestfallen’s” synonyms, though itself is handicapped by the ‘chap’ alteration of: ‘chop’
        Hopefully “blingfallen” would also go on to strengthen the -fallen endfast amongst folk. Anyway, “blingfallen” seems so downright eath to overset and trend, in seemingly being both newfangled and ‘with it, hence marketable to the younger ones.

        Here’s a thoughtful take on the ‘hit and miss’ of phrasewords

      • Jeff Arial says:

        I know this comment is over four years old now, but I wanted to add to the “longfather” conversation. I actually found this page by running a Google search of “longfather” after reading it in The Lord of the Rings. I know I saw it more than once, but the part I just read is in The Return of the King, chapter 5: The Steward and the King. Page numbers are different in every book, so I will only say it’s about 2/3 of the way through the chapter when Faramir is welcoming Aragorn into Minas Tirith. Here is a part of the sentence in which it is used:

        “…I have today brought hither from Rath Dinen the crown of Earnur the last king, whose days passed in the time of our longfathers of old.”

        I also could not find this word in any dictionary, but this seems to hold up the definition of ancestor or forebear, and I personally think usage by Tolkien, who was a well-known linguist, is a good argument for attestation.

        As for “blingfallen”, I have to agree that I don’t care for the “bling” part of it. Chapfallen works, and I found the “chap” part is not a corruption of “chop”, but rather a shortening of “chapman” (dealer, merchant). Other words you can use are unheartened, downhearted, or downcast.

        If you are sundrily looking for a word to go with “-fallen”, then how about “headfallen” or “capfallen”? I chose these because crestfallen comes “from the appearance of a horse with its crest (head) on its chest after defeat in a battle”.

      • bryanajparry says:

        Hi Jeff, thank you for your long and thoughtful post. I can also find no reference to “longfather” in the OED. The closest word I can find in Old English is “ealdfæder”. I not long ago got rid of my LotR as it was tatty. So I can’t look it up for myself(!) I’m happy that you guys think it is attested, but I still like “forefather” better as it is more well-known.

      • Jeff Arial says:

        I also just found “downfallen” in Wiktionary: “3. crestfallen, depressed, down in the dumps.”

      • bryanajparry says:

        I think I definitely like this more than “blingfallen”.

  3. Amidstmost says:


    footfarers for (pedestrians)

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