I’ve been on both sides of the whole made-up word debate over the years. As an English major in college I took an etymology/history of the English course which really did open my eyes (and widen my vocabulary) concerning the expanding wordcount of the English language. Certainly the Norman Conquest had a major impact on the language, as did the expansion of the English empire throughout the 18th century and the “manifest destiny“/explosive growth of the United States. In short (too late) English, as a language, has a rich history of taking new ideas, forms, functions and words and making them their own.

Take “bona fide” for example. There is no real reason for that phrase to have retained it’s full Latin form and spelling. My wife thought the word, one word, was bonafied. Why? No one uses either part singularly because they’re Latin. Why not change the word entirely to some Anglicized form such as bonafied? I don’t know.

Which brings me finally to my point: Stick-to-itiveness is not a word.

Now I know recently I dissected the meaning (or lack thereof) of the word gruntled. Gruntled is a rare case of a word which fell out of favor when a modified version gained use. It reappeared with a different meaning, but it existed previously. We’re experiencing a gruntled rennaissance, a second coming.

Stick-to-itiveness is pure fantasy. It’s a creation of air and consonants and vowels. The product of an unimaginative (or lazy) speaker who couldn’t find another synonym for tenacity quickly enough to make his editor or party guest happy. Thus, stick-to-itiveness was born.

Sportscasters and other television media types are the usual culprits of spreading this dangerous, virulent language meme. Players can possess stick-to-itiveness, so too can cancer patients or children who buck the trend and open lemonade stands in the winter.

To me, though, Stick-to-itiveness is as dumb as “nuke-ya-ler” – it’s a half-assed, lazy way of extending our language through invention. Sure, sometimes vernacular can become respected or formal, like “cowboy” or a myriad other phrases from poker and the Old West.

Still, I’m bound by my adherence to the rules to offer up real-world definitions of stick-to-itiveness.


Main Entry: stick-to-it·ive·ness
Pronunciation: stik-‘tü-&-tiv-n&s
Function: noun
Etymology: from the phrase stick to it
: dogged perseverance : TENACITY

Pronunciation Key (stk-t-tv-ns)
n. Informal
Unwavering pertinacity; perseverance: “You’ve got to have reasonable goals and the stick-to-itiveness to get there” (J. Robert Buchanan).

Discuss among yourselves. You may need to have some stick-to-itiveness to slog through all the bullshit.

4 thoughts on “Stick-to-itiveness

  1. Whelmed…

    I’ve been overwhelmed and underwhelmed, but I wondered this morning if I had (or could) be whelmed. Turns out I can (and have):
    to turn (as a dish or vessel) upside down usually to cover something : cover or engulf completely wit…

  2. Hertz says:

    Speaking as someone who studied linguistics in college rather than English, the definition of a word is slippery. Language is productive, meaning it can recombine into previously unknown shapes (unlike, say, Morse Code, whose symbology is fixed and predetermined). You could say goldify, unbreadly, or deframe in a sentence and people will have some idea what is meant without having to agree in advance. “Stick-to-itiveness” is a Frankenstein’s monster of affixes, and there are shorter words with the same meaning, but it conveys meaning perfectly well.

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