What is a lifequake? Is that a real word?

Earthquakes remain a concern for people living in many places, including my home in Southern California. This awareness, and fear of sudden shaking and buildings falling, enters into many conversations.

I recently read a wonderful term and vocabulary word: lifequake. What does it mean? An event that suddenly changes your life – a car accident, being laid off, terrible illness, or getting divorced – in the same dramatic way that an earthquake might destroy a building.
Now I have a new way to ask friends to share more about awkward situations.

  • How did you deal with that lifequake?
  • What lifequakes have you survived?
  • How will you manage that lifequake?

Is lifequake a real word? Can educated English speakers use it? Absolutely. New words and slang terms enter English dictionaries all the time, partly because our world continues to change and evolve. Lifequake clearly describes a common experience. It’s pithy and practical. While I would might hesisitate about using the term on a TOEFL or TOEIC test, I plan to incorporate into my daily vocabulary with family, friends, and students.

A fellow ESL teacher and longtime California resident believes that “lifequake” was a widely used term in the 1970s among “young, hip people.” Perhaps. Whether old hipster slang or a new Californian term, lifequake conveys an understanding that sometimes life can shock and hurt. Lifequake is a fast way to communicate a harsh reality. Lifequakes happen.

Don’t you agree?

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