Nounage and Verbiage

It seems to be a fad these days to take a word and add “–age” to the end of it to invent a new noun. I hereby dub this phenomenon “nounage.”
In most cases, there already exists a noun that describes the intended concept.

For example, I got a ride home from work one day with my buddy Mikey, who lived on the same side of town, because my car was in the shop for repairs. We called him Mikey because we had three Mikes at the office, so we called one Mike, called the second one Michael, and called the third Mikey to avoid confusion. Anyway, when Mikey was driving me home on a three-lane road, he asked: “What is the proper laneage?” The left lane was definitely preferred, but his word selection, albeit amusing, was also gauche.

I recently saw a television commercial with two young men trying to outdo each other in coming up with new –age words, such as breakfastage, dinnerage, and spillage-age. Such atrocities are enough to make a Grammar Meister want to toss one’s lunchage.

If you are tempted to coin a new word with the suffix –age, be kind and take a moment to think of another word that is already a noun. Choose your verbiage wisely.

Here are some permissible expressions you are free to use in your technical writing:
acreage         footage         mileage         seepage        steerage
baggage        frontage        outage          sewage          stoppage
blockage      fruitage          package       shortage       storage
breakage      linkage           passage        shrinkage     tankage
damage        manage          percentage  spillage         voltage
drainage      message         postage         spoilage       wreckage


5 Responses to “Nounage and Verbiage”

  1. Mikey Says:

    Hello All;

    While I enjoy that Jeanne saw it fit to include some of my humor as an example for written English I do take to task her calling me out as gauche!

    lacking social grace, sensitivity, or acuteness; awkward; crude; tactless

    Perhaps her literary skills and genius prevented her for recognizing an all to obvious use of humor. In recognizing my audience that day it seemed obvious to me that a little linguistic nonsense would interject some humor into an otherwise featureless commute. Silly? Yes. Low humor? Absolutely. Gauche? Hardly.

    • petrocomputing Says:

      Dear Mikey:
      Actually, I was also using humor, as “Gauche” in French means “left,” which was the proper lane (not laneage) at the time. This is probably even more of an insult to a right-winger like you, wink, wink. Thanks for the ride, BTW. No commute with me is “featureless!”
      Love, Jeanne

  2. Hieronymus Illinensis Says:

    It was dubbed “nounage” in the Urban Dictionary back in 2003, which is about when I first encountered it (practiced by two individuals in very different social circles but both belonging to the 1967 birth cohort).

    On the other hand, my father was over 30 years ahead of his time when he reasoned that that with which one garbs oneself should logically be called garbage.

    • petrocomputing Says:

      Love your dad’s saying about garb and garbage – he must have been a real character — and apparently the apple didn’t fall far from the tree!
      Thanks for sharing.
      – Jeanne

  3. Hubert Littau Says:

    Correct word choices are where you find them.Pauly Shore made bank on it. Languages do evolve over time and while I don’t see “-age” as being high on the list of natural selection it never the less has given some of us some tools for creative expression targeted at those do not feel annoyed or even damaged by a little grammatical subversion.

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