The Doctor is IN

Keen Observations on Life … Whether You Need Them or Not

The Freedom of ‘ish


I’ve been a professional writer for a long time. When I graduated from college with an English degree focusing in writing and editing, there was little hope that I would score a writing job that brought home the bacon, not just the Sizzlean. But I’ve always been fortunate to work in my field of study, and it’s always been in a creative capacity, either in advertising, PR, fundraising, or now, as an author. And since I’m a language artist, I figure it’s okay for me to let language work for me and whatever ideal I’m pushing. And sometimes that means being a little lenient on real versus “concept” language.

Take, for example, “ish”. Ish is a powerful adjective suffix. The concept behind it is genius.

Hey Matt, let’s meet for lunch on Friday.
Sure, Dolly. What time?
Let’s say one o’clock’ish.

Perfect. Ish gives everyone a little wiggle room on timing, takes into account traffic, sloth, or just plain ol’ forgetfulness before the Outlook reminder can jar your memory.

Hey Dolly, how many people are coming
to the Christmas party tomorrow night?
I can’t remember exactly … probably 40′ish.

Ish lets you plan for the unexpected. It’s got a built-in contingency. Maybe there will be 40 people at the Christmas party … or maybe there will be 45. Or maybe only 35. But it lets you be flexible (and no need to get in trouble with the mister if you don’t have to).

Hey Dolly, I can’t believe you’ve got a
14 year-old son. You look really good.
You couldn’t possibly be a day over 30.
Oh, what a nice thing to say. I’m 39′ish.

Again, no need to put an exact number on an age. No need to commit. A generalization is okay, particularly when you need it to work for you. Agree to an age that makes you comfortable … no need to make it appear that you had your 14-year-old when you were 14. And you couldn’t just be in your mid-30′s if you fess up to having your 14-year-old when you were 35. Find a good, middle-of-the-road number and stick with it.

Ish. Add it to your vocabulary. You’ll sound especially current and cosmopolitan’ish.


Author: Dolly R. Sickles

Writer, mother, wife, adventurer, agent of change, advocate, ally, volunteer, instructor ... I'm never bored. I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense under the name Becky Moore, and children’s literature under the name Dolly Dozier. You can also check me out at MacMillan Publishing’s Heroes & Heartbreakers, where I’m a romance blogger. During the fall and spring, you can find me in the classroom teaching other folks how to follow their dreams or how to fund their community outreach at Wake Technical Community College, and Central Carolina Community College. During the summer and at random times during the year, I'm out adventuring with my family.

6 thoughts on “The Freedom of ‘ish

  1. I also occasionally speak “ish” but mostly “right-on”.

  2. I love ‘ish’. I have issues with commitment of time….so ‘ish’ gives me that wiggle room i need to commitmto ‘yes’ without having to break my word on being late.

  3. We are from the same tribe. I also speak in Ish.

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