You can invent new adjectives too

Date:October 4, 2006 / year-entry #339
Orig Link:
Comments:    27
Summary:It's not just verbs and nouns. I just saw the adjective "planful" in a piece of email. I don't know what that is supposed to mean. Neither do or Encarta.

It's not just verbs and nouns.

I just saw the adjective "planful" in a piece of email.

I don't know what that is supposed to mean.

Neither do or Encarta.

Comments (27)
  1. Adam says:

    Just out of curiosity, can you give a bit more context? What was the noun being adorned in such a way? What normal English was “planful” being substituted for? (“well-planned”?)

    Very intrigued…

    [Here’s a made-up example based on actual email: “We’ve identified some areas for improvement, and we intend to be planful about them.” -Raymond]
  2. Tom M says:

    OK, I got it.

    A trendy antonym for “careless,” “haphazard” and “sloppy,”

  3. richard says:

    Context is important in understanding a word.

    While I prefer good grammar and proper spelling I have to confess that my fingers sometimes have a mind of their own (I am certain that nerve impulses are slower down my right arm than my left since I consistently type teh instead of the – or maybe it is because I never learned to type). Not to mention that I am guilty of verbing the occasionally noun and implicitly casting other parts of speech into other types – no doubt a vestiage of my C programming days, now, I am forced to write static_cast<verb>(noun) so there is no confusion that it was intentional

    While new words should not be coined out of laziness or limited vocabulary, we need to accept that language is dynamic and evolves constantly.

  4. Sheva says:

     I think this guy probably has been heavily obsessed by Bushism, It’s not unusual that probably he will come up with another term sorta like "Hispanical"


  5. Jeffrey van Gogh says:

    sounds like a more specific version of painful, where the pain is inflected by too much or too little planning :-)

  6. Jade Philosopher says:

    Why dost thou not cleave to the wisdom of thine own words? Verily, why dost thou persist in thine ignorance? Thy language shall change; yea, it shall evolve by the efforts of thy brethren. Hear the words I speak unto thee: nor Webster nor Oxford shall be thy king, for in thy words thou art free.

  7. He who thinks Sheva is an ass... says:

    Nicely done Jade :)

  8. Chris says:

    The Atlantic does a section every other month where they find ideas that don’t have words and, well, word them.

  9. dave says:

    While I don’t like making up words as a general practise, "planful" seems like it ought to be easy enough to figure out. "Full of plan", right?  Thus "well-planned" or something of that nature.

    Cf. "careful", "stressful", etc.

    Actually, my opinion of that word comes down to intent. If the inventor thought it was a "real" word, then I fart in his general direction.

  10. René says:

    In German, we have "planvoll". "planvoll handeln" = "to act with a plan"

  11. DjLizard says:

    It’s a perfectly cromulent word!

  12. James says:

    "Planful" apparently means, "Full of or rich in plans; characterized by planning; organized, systematic." The OED dates it to 1877 ("By planful wisdom overawed"), but shows no quotations between 1931 and 2004.

  13. George Bailey says:

    How about "performant?" That seems to have been invented sometime in the last fifteen minutes or so.

  14. Stephen Jones says:

    The SOED also gives it as a word that first appeared in the nineteenth century, though it states it’s rare.

  15. Darkstar says:

    I’d guess it’s the opposite of the German word "planlos", which means "without a plan". Though I cannot confirm what René said, that "planvoll" is indeed a proper german word. I’ve never heard it.

  16. Ryan Bemrose says:

    `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

    — Humpty Dumpty (Lewis Carroll — "Through the Looking Glass")

  17. Raymond Chen , noble defender of language, pointed out today that fellow Microsofties have now taken

  18. The one Ian guy says:

    re: performant

    I think this is a Microsoft thing, as I hadn’t heard the word before I came here.  Definitely older then fifteen minutes.

  19. embrace & extend says:

    Who would have guessed that? MS is embracing and extending the english language.

  20. Sebastian Redl says:

    Cannot confirm the existence of "planvoll" in German either.

    But I can say that German has the word "performant" (last syllable has the emphasis), although no other word with the root "perform" has survived in this language.

    The word means exactly what you would guess, i.e. "offering good performance".

  21. Marcel says:

    Never heard of "planvoll" either, but much to my surprise it’s in the Duden (basically THE reference for German words and spelling).

  22. platformagnostic says:

    So, is Microsoft becoming a more "planful" company, or is it too planful already and therefore rigid?  I have a suspicion of who sent this email.

  23. Do you find "planless" better?

  24. Hal Hamilton says:

    How about somebody just fat-fingered "painful?"

  25. Steve says:

    Without seeing it in context, I can’t know for sure, but my guess is that it’s an overseas neologism?  For instance I often get mails from our overseas developers that say "I will investigate and do the needful" – meaning, do what’s needed.  So "the planful" could mean "what was planned". :)

    BTW another one that’s used mainly in Indian english is to "prepone" something, ie. the opposite of postponing it.


    I encountered "planful" earlier this summer and I couldn’t make sense of it either.

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