Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Awhile ago I heard, or saw, or maybe read the word "happify."

Well, I guess "saw the word" and "read the word" would really be the same thing. Unless, of course, I saw the word but didn't read the word. I think that to get away with that though one would need to either:

a) not be able to read -- isn't that weird that combined letter symbols become so ingrained in us that we can't really ignore a word -- that our mind sees it as a word and not just nonsense symbols? Hmmm.


b) have seen the word from a great enough distance or with bad enough eyes to not have been able to make out the word.

Anyway, somehow -- read or heard -- happify entered my conscious brain and I kind of liked it and wondered if people could really be happified (grammatically speaking). So, I went to the library and searched the periodicals.

HA! Periodicals. Those were the days.

I googled, "happify," and what I found was most happifying. It was this: Many people are enraged by the use of the word happify -- in any of its various forms.

Here's a little of what I found:

I regularly read a periodical written in the US which makes frequent use of the word "happifying" meaning, apparently, something which makes one happy or generates a sense of happiness. I loathe the word. . . .

And, for your enjoyment, several of the responses:

I think this periodical should be named and shamed. We could deluge them with letters from unhappified logophiles until they promise never to do it again.


I am mortified not happified.

Back in 1895, Austin Phelps (a writer on English style) said this about the word:

"Happify is a barbarism which I have never met with but in the dialect of the Methodist pulpit. Even 'dictionaries unabridged' do not contain it."

(Apparently the Methodists weren't the ones preaching the hellfire and damnation sermons that we read in 10th grade English -- you know, the ones about how we are like spiders dangling from a tiny thread over a burning pit of fire and lava and the like? I mean, that certainly isn't the kind of sermon you'd expect to find anything happifying at all in).

Anyway, despite Austin's disdain for the word, it turns out that it actually has been around since at least the mid-1600's. So there is no way of getting around it.

And isn't it ironic that all those people feeling so disgusted with the word happify is something that I find quite happifying? They all expressed themselves so well that I feel they completely deserve to dislike any word they choose.

P.S. Spellcheck is not happified at all about all of the happify business in this post.


Karen said...

What about happition? or happious? or happilicious? No? Well, I have to say I like the word happify and intend to work it into my vocabulary.

Krista said...

Some people would be stupified if they were happified. I like happify. It's like, you couldn't really help being happy - it just happened. Like serendipity.

Perla said...

how funny that some people are so upset about this word. i think it is great actually because it fills a need. is there one single word on its own that means the same thing? i am trying to think. if not, it fills a void, i think. you know how in poetry you try to cut any unnecessary words? that is all this is doing. like this, "i wish i could be in haiti to help happify." that covers quite a broad range of things that i would like to do to try and somehow bring about any bit of joy and it kind of reminds me of hopeful. so...perhaps i'll start using this word. dad has taught us that when we find a nice word that suits our needs we should go ahead and use it. at least, that's what it seems he sometimes does.

Mugsy said...

haha..funny stuff!

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