Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Words That Sound Made Up

This might become a series, though I can't guarantee any regularity, since it's entirely dependent on the Word of the Day offered by dictionary.com.

Over at the Penny Arcade forum The Writer's Block, I take part occasionally in a word of the day writing exercise. We pick the word of the day from the day before, and write 800-1200 words of scene or story, somehow using the word of the day within, or as a theme. Sometimes we write a lot less than 800 words, because the word is something ridiculous like clinquant or gallimaufry and you just stare at it and wonder how on earth you can make that word sound casual in any use or form. (Firefox doesn't even recognize clinquant as a correctly spelled word, in fact.) But for the first time, Sunday, I came across a word that looked like something an eight year old makes up while mumbling to his or herself.

I'm sure you guys are all dying to know what it is, so that you, too, can decide how to use it in a sentence without feeling like a fraggle or some other kind of outrageous muppet.


Just like it sounds-- it's kind of a blend between Fragile and Breakable in definition. According to dictionary.com:

frangible \FRAN-juh-buhl\ , adjective;

1.Capable of being broken; brittle; fragile; easily broken.
I had been resisting writing my word of the day exercise for some time, but Frangible broke me down. It was too good not to write something with! (Also I've made a vow to use Frangible instead of fragile at every opportunity in my daily life.)

So now, I challenge you! Write a small scene-- mine is only 500 or so words-- using the word frangible! Put it in the comments if you like! Have at it!

And my scene? Well. It's not anything fabulous but, if you like, it's below. Remember, it's just an exercise. It can be rough!

She kept staring at the stem. The perfect form of it, and the little leaf that still stuck to it, hanging on barely by a thread. A thread of pure gold, melding perfectly into the veins of the leaf. She reached out, as if to trace it with her fingertip, but stopped herself. It looked so frangible. Like a strong breeze would snap the leaf free and leave the stem bare, and she didn't want to tarnish the polish. So bright and clean it was a mirror, her face distorted by the curve of the fruit and the room behind her washed in gold, as if the apple glowed with its own light.

She sighed, and the leaf trembled with her breath, making the golden color of the stem ripple with a rainbow of red, not unlike the result gained by pressing a fingertip against a liquid crystal display.

"You can touch it, you know," he said, laughter in his voice.

Her face flushed and she sat up, picking up her pen and pretending to stare at the paper before her. She was supposed to be doing homework, not gawking over the gleaming fruit on her desk.

He reached past her and picked it up, the pressure of his thumb against the surface causing more waves of red. In spite of herself, she stared at it, her eyes widening as he tossed it into the air and caught it again with his other hand.

He held it out to her, the delicate leaf still attached, and she could see the reflection of his eyes, bright blue and smiling. "See? No harm done."

"No harm," she repeated, taking it carefully from his hand. It weighed at least ten pounds, though he had made it seem much lighter. She looked up at his face. "You don't have any idea, do you, what a fruit like this did?"

His smile disappeared. "I prefer to think of it as a gift, not a curse. Wisdom, knowledge, the power that courses through your veins, it's what saved the world from utter destruction."

She set the apple down on the desk. It was so soft, the gold, like silk, and her fingers caressed it even as she forced herself to let it go. "If the fruit hadn't existed, the world wouldn't have needed to be saved."

"Well," he said. "There isn't much left of it that's edible now. Another week and it will be solid gold, inside and out. Suitable to be melted down and made into anything. Coins, jewelry, leaf for a chestplate, or even to cover your ceiling with. Whatever you'd prefer."

"And what of all the others still hanging from branches?"

He sighed, and the little leaf trembled again. So delicate and perfect. A work of art all on its own. It seemed a shame to melt it away, destroy something so beautiful, to turn it into what? Something pretty to wear around her neck? Something to barter with? No. She would keep it just the way it was, sitting on her desk, and if it reminded her of her past, so be it.

"They'll cause no harm," he said. "You have my word."

When she looked up from the apple and met his eyes, for a moment she even believed it.


  1. I don't know where I've seen frangible used before, but I swear another blogger out there used it once.

    Bane, was that you?

    I'll bet you can use it in place of fragile in your spoken life, but are you planning to use it in writing? :)

    You could start a new trend!

  2. Stephanie--Probably not in my writing, just because I feel so awkward with it, and I'm sure that will come out. But if I start using it in daily life, and get comfortable, then maybe someday it'll sneak into my text. :)

  3. You're right. Frangible sounds made up. It's more endearing that way.

    Lovely clip!

  4. Nisa: Yes! It does give it a bit of extra charm! Thanks!

  5. OH wow, that does sound made up lol! I love it! I don't know if I can think of a scene because the word sounds borderline silly, but I'm tempted to try!

  6. You can do it, Diana! Even if it is totally silly :) That's half the fun!

  7. It reminds me of the chocolate candies called "Frangos". Fun word, but it really does sound made up. :-)

  8. Life was so fragile.
    Life was so frangible.

    In spite of her fragile looks...
    In spite of her frangible looks...

    I don't know, Amelia. Think I'm going to have to get used to it. I admit it does have a certain charm. It makes me smile. :)

  9. Shannon: Frangos sounds like a really bizarre name for chocolate.

    VR: I'm imagining millions of packages stamped with "Frangible" in red ink being shipped through the mail.

  10. Oh, oh, I missed this post! OK, so I think I love this word.

    And I'm going to make up a scene! Just not tonight. But, totally awesome!

  11. I knew you'd like it Sarah! Can't wait to see your scene!


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