Michael sat at his desk, trying to focus on his eighth grade homework assignment. He had been struggling with the story he was supposed to write for more than an hour and still was only about halfway through the mandatory word count. To be fair, he'd spent a considerable amount of the time counting and recounting the words. He wanted to know the second he reached the limit. The plan was to stop in mid-sentence, if that's where the magic number came up.
As Michael continued to wrack his brain for more inspiration, his grandmother walked into the room to peer over his shoulder. She was a short woman - even with him sitting, it didn't require much bending over for her to spy on his assignment. He could hear her breathing close to his ear and was about to say something about it when she abruptly spoke.
“What is that sentence there?”
“The one starting paragraph four.”
“'Everyone just needs to Chillax.' That one?”
“Yes. Chillax? What kind of word is that?”
“It's a combination of 'relax' and 'chill'.”
“Really? Why not just use either relax or chill then?”
“Because chillax is a better word.”
“Hmmpfff. How's that for a word?”
“That's not a word.”
“Neither is chillax.”
“Yes it is.”
“No, it's not. Combining two words that mean the same thing doesn't make a new word. It's not even necessary. You have two perfectly good words there, just make up your mind and use one of them. Don't go off making up new ones just because you're double-minded.”
Now it was Michael's turn to be frustrated. “I'm telling you Grandma, it's a word! It's in the dictionary and everything.”
“Not in any dictionary I've ever seen.”
Michael brought up his computer screen with a flick of the mouse and went online to his favorite search page. Quickly he brought up the Merriam-Webster Dictionary website and typed “chillax” into the search bar.
“See? There it is – in the dictionary!”
Michael's grandmother walked out of the room without a word. Before the eighth grader could return to his homework, though, she was back with a huge book in her arms.
BAM! The book slammed down onto his desk. Dust rose from it in little miniature tornadoes.
“That, my little smart-aleck, is a dictionary. I don't know what you call that thing you pulled up on the computer screen.”
Michael brushed off the front of the book. Merriam-Webster.
“Umm, Grandma? This is the same disctionary I just looked up online.”
“Well, then, find me 'chillax' in there.”
“It's not going to be in there. This book is like a million years old.”
“So is the English language.”
“Yeah, but they keep adding new words every year.”
“That's ridiculous. There are plenty of words already. Thousands that most people don't even know. Why would they add new ones?”
“I don't know, because people keep coming up with new ones, I guess.”
“Well, how about I come up with a new one? 'Stupidumb'. That's a cross between 'stupid' and 'dumb'. Put that in your report!”
With one last “hmmpff”, Grandma left Michael sitting alone with his homework, but not without inspiration. Quickly he scratched out his next sentence.
“This assignment is stupidumb.”
Only seventy-five words to go.
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