Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

Gription and Grippiness

Paula Gray wrote about a year ago that, “[S]everal years ago, my young son coined the word gription, which is now popular in our family. He was complaining that the soles of his athletic shoes were wearing out. The vinyl/plastic soles had become hard and slick. He described them as “not having enough gription anymore.” I suppose it is a combination of grip and traction.”

Indeed, I wrote back to tell her about portmanteau words which we discussed only recently. I also mentioned ideolects, which is the dialect of a single family or even person—yes, dialects can be that small.

However, while visiting my sons and their children over the holidays, my eldest son, Jeff, mentioned that the new tires on his jeep we very grippy, which I took to mean that they had good “gription”. Of course, to the extent grippy works, it implies a whole family of relatives: grippier, grippiest, grippily, and grippiness.

Both these words strike me as legimate and grammatical and I like them because they demonstrate that English is alive, flexible, full of creative opportunities—and fun.

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