What Is Niebu: The New Way of the World

It was a dark, silent morning. The clock told me it was an hour best forgotten. It made no difference to me; I was awake, needing coffee and stumbling through my morning routine.

I squinted at the blindingly bright screen and typed quickly, then hit Enter. I always type that way, without editing and without thinking twice. But think twice I did when I read my own Twitter message as it appeared on the screen.

Niebu

“What th…” I peered closer. Then I looked down at my fingers, shifted one set of letters to the left. “Mornin'” takes on new meaning when you make a typo.

“Niebu to you, too,” my friend Dave Navarro responded, and indeed, a new meaning was born.

In the space of just a few days, Niebu took off. It became a greeting, and “Niebu, everyone!” is a phrase commonly read in Twitter. It grew a little bigger, and Niebu began to represent the word goodbye as well.

A few more days, and it was amazing to watch the metamorphism of a simple typo into a mainstream phrase. It evolved, too, beyond its salutation form. It began encompassing a sense of peace, of happiness and of joy.

“It’s better than The Force,” I mentioned, and people nodded in agreement. Niebu says it all.

You can laugh over it. You can wrap it around your mind and feel good. It rolls off the tongue. It’s short, succinct and carries good associations. It represents belonging and community.

It’s showing up all over the place these days. Web pages answering the question “What Does Niebu Mean” are cropping up. Other sites are blogging about Niebu or discuss the Niebu phenomenon.

Newcomers to Twitter ask what Niebu is. Many soon adopt it into their language. Niebu has been seen in blog comment sections, in blog posts and in emails.

“I’d pay for premium Niebu,” someone wrote me, and I was stunned to see the very word I’d launched in the world typed back in such a language-integrated, comfortable way.

Niebu has been submitted to Urban Dictionary. It may reach mainstream society quickly and become part of everyday lexicons everywhere. I knew the scope creep was happening when I wound up a phone call with Harry recently: “Alright. I’m outta here. Niebu, bro. Catch you in the morning.”

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

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  1. I caught that first utterance (typance?) of “niebu” in my Twitter stream & “KIK” I did.. ^_^ Yesterday, the keys belonging to one of Twitter’s founders (@evskeys) began tweeting haiku. These two concepts seem made for each other:

    so much to express
    virtual community
    made real with niebu

    (|_|*cheers*|_|)
    “One great, strong, unselfish [word] in every community could actually redeem the world.” ~ Elbert Hubbard [edited by @coffeesister]

    Dorian aka coffeeister |_|)’s last blog post..What are YOU taking for granted?

  2. “That’s one small Niebu for a man …

    … one giant Niebu for mankind.”

    Dave Navarro’s last blog post..Are You Building An ?Empire Of Dirt??

  3. Niebu to you to my friends. I’m amazed this has taken off like it did and thanks to the power of Twitter this was made possible.

    The word Niebu really does roll and while I type this I’m grinning like a niebu’ed out maniac without even having had a coffee. Maybe that is the secret to Niebu – coffee.

    Get your Niebu fix first thing in the morning (encompassing a lack of coffee but yet feeling great and being deliriously happy)

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Writing Queries – Freelance Writing Guide

  4. I notice the scope creep too. The first time I used it outside of twitter was when I linked to your tweet in my weekly review last Sunday. After that, comments and emails. It’s been on the tip of my tongue when greeting friends, but I haven’t used it in real life just yet.

    It’s evolving from a “you had to be there” thing to a more underground mainstream phenomenon. And it’s just a fine word. Only the niebu/neibu confusion needs to evolve into something I guess 🙂

    “May Niebu protect you and bless you with lots of creative typos.”

    Lodewijk van den Broek’s last blog post..How To Ease Your Self-Imposed Restraints Into Results

  5. What’s funny as hell is when I write “neibu” and people point out I’ve made a typo. How can you make a typo on a typo? lol

  6. Deb Ng says:

    This is why I can’t do anything without glasses. You can always tell when I can’t find where I left them because my work is riddled with typos.

    I knew you’d make a blog post out of it…

    May the force be with you.

  7. It seems clear that the interwebs are more than ready for Niebu and the spirit that the word encompasses: as an antidote to an overserving of make-money-online sites, perhaps. Nicely done, James – this is exactly the kind of thing meant when people say that luck is 90% ability to recognize an opportunity when it comes knocking!

  8. Niebu linkage, James. Niebu, indeed! Truly an awesome new addition to our language.

    Awesome Mustache’s last blog post..Niebu – Good Morning, Internet

  9. [What’s funny as hell is when I write “neibu” and people point out I’ve made a typo. How can you make a typo on a typo? lol]

    Just as well I didn’t mention this either. I admit I did a double take when I saw the typo but then thought what the heck…since James is in Niebu mode he might as well start creating more variations of it.

    How about Ubine?
    May Niebu with your Ubine……ghack…ghack…ghack

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Writing Queries – Freelance Writing Guide

  10. See what you’ve done….you jinxed me. Now I’m typing in riddles too.

    *be

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Writing Queries – Freelance Writing Guide

  11. Maybe you could channel Mork from Ork by going around saying “Neibu, neibu”. Hey, maybe it’s the same thing as “Nanu, nanu”, but Mork’s writers got it wrong?

    Staying in the Robin Williams mode, they should change one of his movie titles to be, “Good Neibu, Vietnam!” Or is the “good” redundant?

    Well, ;syrt!

    Mark Dykeman’s last blog post..Catch the brainwaves of Patricia Mayo

  12. Niebu/neibu are the respective masculine and feminine forms. You know those French Canadian types, have to have two versions for everything.

  13. @ Harry: LOL, I wonder what the masculine version of LOL is then? Or is LOL already masculine? 😉

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Writing Queries – Freelance Writing Guide

  14. Someone correcting the spelling of a neologism is an excellent sign it is being adopted, because it means there is a “right” way to spell it.

    I see its (fake) etymology as the greeting a cargo cult makes when a plane flies overhead.

    K.G. Schneider’s last blog post..Passion Quilt Meme: Reading Sets You Free

  15. Monika,

    I alaways check the typo status of it, I type it both ways and have to correct it. It’s the only irritating thing about Niebu Neibu….

    Hey, I’m just happy that I know Neibu’s daddy.

    I can say I knew him back when….

    Wendi Kelly’s last blog post..Slow Cooking Frogs

  16. *arches eyebrow* Niebu’s daddy?

    Uh oh… Okay, people. This is important: No one on the face of this earth should ever name their children Niebu. I can see this coming. Don’t do it, please.

    But do feel free to name them James in honor of me. That’d be lovely.

  17. I’m still trying to confirm this, but “Niebu” may mean “heaven” in Polish. Stay tuned on that front…

    Also, is it a bit weird to anyone else that, when I Stumbled this post just now, I used “Niebu” as a keyword? Just sayin’.

    Bob Younce at the Writing Journey’s last blog post..Brain Dump – Niebu, Helium Contests, and Twitter

  18. @ Bob – I did some research myself and it seems that heaven/niebu may be a possibility. However, I couldn’t confirm it either. Someone Polish will have to tell us the right of it. And back up their claim.

    Niebu and heaven is a pretty cool association, I think.

  19. @ Wendi: haha…big daddy O. I can see where this is leading…:-)

    @ Bob: long live the revolution… of Neibuism

    @ James: mmhhh…now that is an idea….back in the 70 s they named children “flower” and “star”. Modernism ads a new twist with Neibu or Niebu depending on whether it is a girl or boy.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Writing Queries – Freelance Writing Guide

  20. Graham Strong says:

    So why isn’t it “Neibub”?

    Actually, I smell a marketing opportunity here. Somehow equating “Neibub” with “Morning”, needing to wake up, blurry eyed…

    ‘Course this would be a marketing plan for Nabob…

    ~Graham

    Graham Strong’s last blog post..Happy “May Day”!

  21. James – I’m impressed that you’ve invented a new word. And I think it has cult potential. You may have to change to Men With Niebu’s, or even Niebu’s With Pen’s. Or you could just ask visitors to put their Niebu in the comments section or vice versa.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..The Pros And Cons Of Outsourcing Your Life

  22. Niebu… Niebuists, Niebuisms, is pretty cool…you have founded an “ism”…whoa…beyond fantastic. 😉

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..The Function of Form

  23. Ha, I love all these creative words that are born here in the comments.

    @ James: maybe you’ll have to create a whole new language next. The language of Niebu. One nation – Nibeu language, Niebu dollars.

    Oh well…Niebu to you all. I’m off to lala land. 🙂

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Proposing For A Job – Freelance Writing Guide

  24. “What’s funny as hell is when I write “neibu” and people point out I’ve made a typo. How can you make a typo on a typo? lol”

    Hehe, guilty as charged. 😀

    I did a look-up on the word… niebu -> welkins -> sky or heaven.

    So you managed to pick a very nice word to have an entirely different meaning! 🙂

    Allison’s last blog post..Taste and Create 7

  25. See, now, I seriously wasn’t going to comment, because I’m not in on the twitter thang, but there is something that was bugging me and Thank Goodness Graham noticed it:

    So why isn’t it “Niebub”

    The answer is clear: little Pen hit the backspace key so James could become an even bigger celebutante. Niebub has no ring to it at all.

    Voodoo. In a good way.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Tip of the Week: Stand and Deliver

  26. When will you start selling t-shirts and hats?

    Jennifer H’s last blog post..The Man Photo

  27. Meryl K. Evans says:

    Whoa… I just read an entry on the same topic at Writing Journey (linked in the post). So, Niebuleh, Niebulita, and Niebulito are terms we use when we niebu someone we love (bubbeleh, -ito / -ita for Spanish), right?

    Niebueh, Niebuito, and Nebuita just don’t work as well without the L. Seemed right as it reminds me of nebula. I guess Niebula and Niebulo work in greeting females and males.

    I think I’m Niebu’d out and must’ve corrected my Niebu spelling 10 times writing this silly comment. I think Kelly meant Niebutante.

  28. @ Meryl- Niebutante!!! love that. 🙂 Are there tiaras?

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..The Function of Form

  29. Meryl, Niebutante is perfect. LOL! James is undoubtedly having the tiara fitted as we speak.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Tip of the Week: Stand and Deliver

  30. Brett Legree says:

    Niebu also means “I’m late to the party, looks like everyone is having a good time, thanks for the beer…”

    You know, James, niebu will be on CNN or Good Morning America someday. It is that good.

    -Brett

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..from dusk till dawn. a story about running.

  31. Oh, Brett, his head’s gonna be so swelled they’ll have to resize his tiara.

    But you’re probably right…

    Kelly’s last blog post..Tip of the Week: Stand and Deliver

  32. I doubt very much there will be a tiara large enough to fit if this hits the mainstream media. How about we make him a rhinestone jumpsuit a la Elvis? Lots of shinies there.

    Nieburiffic!

  33. Brett Legree says:

    In the words of Ash Williams (Army of Darkness),

    “Hail to the (comment) king, baby.”

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..from dusk till dawn. a story about running.

  34. When I first saw it, I got a good feeling. Somehow I got caught up in spelling it “neibu.” When I found out where it originated I thought, “James, that clever rascal!”

    A few days later, my dad was asking me how words get invented and I told him the story of niebu 🙂

    Melissa Donovan’s last blog post..Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

  35. *ahem* It is a crown, not a tiara, and I’ll be damned if I wear a jumpsuit.

  36. I finally jumped on the Niebu bandwagon, singing the Batman theme song to Brett with all the tune in Niebus. Like so:

    Niebu Niebu Niebu Niebu Niebu Niebu Niebu – Nie-buuuuuuuuuu!

    When I jump on a bandwagon, it’s a big jump.

    Tei – Rogue Ink’s last blog post..Working on the Weekends

  37. James- the tiaras are for us silly…you have to wear the crown…with a swagger of course..it’s de riguer exalted one…

    Janice C Cartier’s last blog post..The Function of Form

  38. You know you’ve arrived because the domain name

    http://www.niebu.com

    has been registered.

    So has

    http://www.neibu.com

    🙂

    Data points,

    Barbara

    Barbara Ling’s last blog post..1 Killer Technique for Blog Commenting – Something you might be neglecting.

  39. Hahahahahahaha. Barbara, that is amazing!

    Matt Lauer will be calling any minute.

    Talking points: Peace, love, and niebu.

    And a good steel-barreled pen.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Get In On the Action: Business Cards of Bloggers

  40. @Monika If it’s going to turn into a full-fledged nation, I vote for calling ourselves Niebubians… Although Niebu Nation sounds good, almost revolutionary!

    Awesome Mustache’s last blog post..Niebu – Good Morning, Internet

  41. Niebo is polish for heaven. Niebu is a derivative of that word, which means “Heaven”. I checked it with @Ludwikc, one of my Polish tweeps. See his reply here. And the dictionary here.

    Neibu on the other hand, means “internal” or “restricted” in Chinese. And it’s a city there too.

    Sherlock signing off. Niebu my friends!

    Lodewijk van den Broek’s last blog post..How To Ease Your Self-Imposed Restraints Into Results

  42. Wow! From a humble typing error to such a wonderfully positive word/concept/philosophy! Nice one, James, I really hope it soon becomes an everyday word in life.

    But if we’re going to start using it in speech, how do we pronounce it? I have read it as sounding like “A” but probably because i had read it as Neibu! I guess it might be “I” or “E” really?

    Great post and great comments too! Have spent a lovely while giggling at all the comments (not just a word but a whole language!), plus you have inspired me to write a post on a blog I love but have neglected recently, thank you!

    Or rather, Niebu! :o)

    Dianne Murphy-Rodgers’s last blog post..Niebu: A new word, a new world!

  43. I’m using this post as a tag for another meme going around. But it’s become clear that niebu has blown way past meme already. How cool is that?

    Tag, anyway: http://tuleydocs.com/2008/05/09/sixteen-random-facts-about-me/

    Matt Tuley, Laptop for Hire’s last blog post..Eight—er, sixteen—random facts about me

  44. Done, posted and in your comment section here:

    Facts about Matt

  45. You can laugh over it. You can wrap it around your mind and feel good. It rolls off the tongue. It’s short, succinct and carries good associations.

    So, it is like supercalifragilisticexpialidocious but fits into a tweet.

    Interesting.

    Guilherme Zühlke O’Connor’s last blog post..Win problogger book and help the blogosphere

  46. Says something about the nature of modern communication – it used to be that changes, shifts and additions to languages took a long time, decades even. Now one person can make a typo and within hours and days, affect the vocabularies of entire groups of people. It might have matured to the point where we take it for granted, but the Internet is really something amazing. Niebu!

    Joel Falconer’s last blog post..Getting the Most Out Of Creative Commons

  47. JC- You’d better get it on thebigwordproject- STAT

Trackbacks

  1. […] syllable by familiar syllable… To make it up to James and Harrison, please go read about the exciting new world of niebu. Tags: heat, humour | Posted in […]

  2. […] There is a better way, my friends. The way of Niebu… […]

  3. […] passed down the hallowed halls of the Twitterdom, James Chartrand from Men with Pens originally coined this word one bright Canadian day when bidding his fellow tweeters a good morning, he did so with […]

  4. […] made up word and see if there are any results and keep trying if there are. Don't use "niebu", okay? (Go ahead and hover over […]

  5. […] peers and neighbors in social media. (I’m incredibly jealous of James Chartrand for inventing “niebu”. Well, he didn’t really invent it; his fat fingers did. But I digress as the envy express […]

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    […] is a Twitter thing, explained here.  But don’t go look just yet, because I’ve been asked to summarize my “dream […]

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