Frindle Questions and Answers
by Andrew Clements

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Is the word frindle from the book Frindle actually a real word?  

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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No, it isn't a real word at all, but the whole point of the book is to show how it could so easily become one. New words come into use all the time; the dictionaries of today are a whole lot different from those our ancestors used. Words that were once quite common are almost never used today. Likewise, many of the words that we do use today would've baffled previous generations.

Though initially just a bit of a joke, Nick's calling a pen a "frindle" actually ends up teaching him a lot about the meaning of words. Over the course of the story, Nick comes to realize that the meaning of a word is inseparable from how it's actually used, the context in which it's written or spoken. Language is largely the product of social conventions that have developed over a considerable length of time. Dictionaries can help clarify the definition of words, but their actual meaning derives from their usage by groups of people in various social situations.

When Nick and the other students at school use the word "frindle" they're inadvertently playing their own language game, with its own unspoken rules of communication and mutual understanding. No one explicitly needs to say "A frindle is just another word for a pen." Everyone already understands what the word means by how it is used by all the members of the group as they play their little language game.

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Dorothea Tolbert eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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No, the word frindle is not a real word.  In the story, however, it becomes a real word.  The genre of the book is realistic fiction, and in the story the word frindle winds up in the dictionary. 

The main character, Nick, asks his teacher one day who invents words and how they end up in the dictionary.  "'Who says dog means dog?'" he asks.  His teacher asks him to research it, which he does.

Nick decides that he should invent a new word.  He decides to call a pen a "frindle."  He and his friends start calling pens "frindles" in class and at school.  This causes trouble, especially with his teacher, Mrs. Granger.  

A phenomenon began.  Soon everyone was talking about frindles.  Nick appeared in the newspaper, on television, and on the radio to tell about his new word.  Merchandise was sold.  Nick became rich.  Eventually, frindle became a word in the dictionary.

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