I posted a question about the receptivity of the word, “non-view” in “views and non-view” a few days ago. One answerer responded me that though “non-view” is not registered in any (or most) of dictionaries, authors and journalists have freedom of coining neologism.
I understand the view – words evolve along with time. But when I come across an unfamiliar word that I cannot find its heading in any dictionary, I feel uneasy, and start to suspect if that particular coinage of the word is really meaningful, does it really achieve the writer's purpose of inventing word, isn’t it too much for his own good?
With that said, I found the word, “hissable” in the following sentence of a review of the latest movie, “Margin Call,” appearing in today’s New York Times (October 20) under the title, “Number Crunching at the Apocalypse.”
“There are no hissable villains here, no operatic speeches condemning or celebrating greed. Just a bunch of guys (and one woman, Demi Moore) in well-tailored clothes and a state of quiet panic trying to save themselves from a global catastrophe of their own making.”
I looked for “hissable” in Oxford, Cambridge, Merriam-Webster and other online dictionaries, none of which carries the word, “hissable,” though I could find “kissable.”
I guess “hissable” means to be reproached or damned. But is “hiss-able” a received English usage? If it isn’t, I wonder what was the additional value or gain of the author’s deliberately coining “hissable,” or using the word that is not contained in dictionaries at hand, instead of simply using plain English such as reproachful, damnable or whatever well-received. Am I too conservative?
PS. I checked Google Ngram after posting this question, and found that the use of “hissable” has started to rise around 1920 after a hiatus of a brief emergence and quick demise around 1860. It seems to have gained currency though dictionaries cannot catch up it. I tried to find currency of “cryable,” “scoldable,” “tearable,” “shortendable,” “lengthendable” at randam just for fun on Ngram, without success. I still wonder if I can say “you are not coughable during piano concert / pissable on street,” instead of saying “you should refrain from coughing during piano concert / urinating on street.”