What Does “Puttylike” Mean?
This photo of Silly Putty monsters is courtesy of Dan Powell.

What Does “Puttylike” Mean?

Written by Emilie

Topics: The Basics

The other day, someone in the Puttytribe started a discussion in the forum asking what a “puttypeep” is. English wasn’t their native language and they didn’t quite get it.

I posted a reply and then realized how helpful it might be to share my response here on the blog. I bet she isn’t the only person who’s been wondering.

Before we get to “puttypeep,” which is the term we use for the awesome members of the Puttytribe, let’s talk about “Puttylike” and the whole putty thing. What does it mean and how did we get here?

What does “puttylike” mean?

I named this site back when I launched it in 2010. My goal was to come up with a catchy title for this idea I had for a website to help support people like me who have multiple passions and curiosities.

I was brainstorming by using my favourite brainstorming tool, thesaurus.com, and I came across this entry. Here are some of synonyms they list for puttylike:

accomplished, adaptable, all-around, functional, gifted, resourceful, skilled, skillful, talented, able, adroit, all-purpose, ambidextrous, conversant, dextrous, ingenuous, many-sided, multifaceted.

It’s funny because “puttylike” isn’t actually in the dictionary even though it is in the thesaurus. But I’m defining it in my forthcoming book as follows:

Puttylike (adj.): “Able to embody different identities and perform a variety of tasks gracefully”

About a year and a half after Puttylike was launched, I started the Puttytribe — a play off of Puttylike. I thought it would be fun to have a term that we could all use to describe ourselves in there so I decided to keep the putty theme going and use puttypeep (‘peep’ as in people).

There’s also definitely a Silly Putty connotation going on. I think it’s a decent metaphor for multipotentialites. Silly putty is this colourful, malleable stuff that stretches, changes shape and bounces.

Video proof…

I can’t believe I’m doing this, but here is a video that I posted on the sidebar when I first launched Puttylike in September 2010, six years ago. Please enjoy the hair:

#babyemilie

*Sigh* that was embarrassing. :)

em_bioEmilie Wapnick is the Founder and Creative Director at Puttylike, where she helps multipotentialites integrate ALL of their interests into their lives. Unable to settle on one path herself, Emilie studied music, art, film production and law, graduating from the Law Faculty at McGill University. She is an occasional rock star, a paleo-friendly eater and a wannabe scientist carpenter. Learn more about Emilie here.

30 Comments

  1. Great explanation and I especially love the video! Way better than videos I made at the same time which I definitely couldn’t post anywhere now!!

    • Emilie says:

      Haha thanks Amanda! It’s always hard to watch yourself on video. I even have a hard time watching my TED talk, which I KNOW is good. With video I take the approach: make it, put it out there, and then pretend it doesn’t exist. :P Seems to work for the most part.

  2. Maryske says:

    Thanks for explaining – I hadn’t gotten the “peep” reference either. Thought it referred for some vague reason to a peeping sound (like mice).

    I like the video though. And don’t mind the hair – it doesn’t look that bad :-D You can always say our hairstyles can switch just as much as our passions do!

  3. Amy says:

    Au contraire, Emilie! This is wonderful. Thanks for sharing, explaining. It’s great to see your infectious enthusiasm in its beginning stage!

  4. Edward says:

    Oh, Emilie! You are SO cute! What are you talking about? I like the hair.
    Puttylike is the perfect word. Tribe,of course.It fits.However, up until about two weeks ago, I thought that “peeps” meant “little, tiny, yellow, baby chickens”. I don’t know why, alright? That’s just where my mind went. Now I realize what it means is that we are tiny, yellow, squishy, and made of marshmallow. Right?

  5. Heidi De Wolf says:

    Are there two types of putty types? e.g. Alpha & Beta or are putty types always Beta?

  6. Doug Walker says:

    Fun Emilie! I had sort of assumed that’s what Puttylike meant. Glad to have it nailed down. (I love references!) Great video and cool hair! Thanks for sharing this.

  7. Kim says:

    I actually like the hair and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. I think it’s great you put yourself and your ideas out there, especially since they tend to run against the grain of what we are pushed to do/be, as you said, from a very early age…OMG asking a 4 year old “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Really? I fall firmly in the Puttylike tribe. I’m 61 and still wondering WTF I want to do with my life. I’ve spent way too much money exploring several things, only to lose interest and have all the tools and materials sitting in my storage unit “in case I come back to it” as well as having to listen to my inner judge bitch about having spent all that money on things that I no longer use and can’t sell for nearly what I put into them. Sigh. That is my biggest challenge with my multipotentialite nature and that is getting over that whole mess of guilt for spending all the money for all this stuff I don’t follow through on and at this point being almost frozen about doing anything else for that reason. Keep on doing what you love and what catches your interest. Glad you have found a way to live it freely.

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks Kim. I’m not actually embarrassed. Was mostly joking around. Though I do appreciate the kind words!

      Have you tried borrowing, renting or buying second hand equipment? I know it’s too late for all of the things you’ve explored in the past, but maybe there’s a way that you can keep being you without breaking the bank.

  8. I think you said “many passions”, but I first heard “mini passions”. Which I also quite like :-)

  9. Emily says:

    Emilie!

    I’m newer to this community and the concept but it’s totally me. I love the term Puttylike. It’s really intuitive.

    Emily

    P.S. Your hair rocks in this video. Thanks for bringing it back.

  10. Joe says:

    Emilie,
    When I saw your TED talk, I learned what you were doing. When I studied your website, I learned a little about who you are. After seeing the above video, I now know the Why. Your love and passion shows so strongly. It emanates from your voice, your smile, your eyes. I swear I did not notice the hair. When you are acting from the heart, what does hair matter?

  11. Claudia says:

    Hi there, Emilie! Your TED Talk was suggested to me by TED (I’m a subscriber) last week. I was so excited to learn that I was not alone, and that my curiosity & yearning for learning is a wonderful thing, and that what I encourage my daughter to do – follow your heart – is the way to go! I belong to a meetup group organized by the Marketing Director for Hofstra College’s Continuing Ed. The group meets for the purpose of embracing growth & change in the 21st century workplace. After viewing your TED Talk, I immediately shared it with our group’s organizer. Here’s what she said: “Hi Meetup Members,One of our regular members, Claudia, sent me a link to a terrific TED Talk. I urge you to watch it. It reinforces what we been talking about at our meetings: the need for lifelong learning, adaptability and cross-functional thinking to thrive in the 21st Century economy.” Looking forward to learning more from your website, and from the Puttylike community!

    • Emilie says:

      Hi Claudia,

      That’s so cool! Thanks for sharing it with your group. I’m glad they enjoyed it.

      It also sounds like you’re an awesome mom. A lot of multipotentialites don’t have that kind of support at home. Really great.

  12. Mel says:

    What a great video. (I like the hair.) Thanks again for starting this site and I love the emails.

  13. james says:

    Hair: rocking! Your ideas: also rocking. Girl, life is drag and you wear it well. Plus, you have inspired people, myself included. So you do you and keep up the brave work!

    Finally, I thought the putty+ peep idea was obvious. Flexible people. Yes! My tribe! Yes!

    Cheers!

  14. Mridu Singh says:

    Lovely hairdo. Nice video (y)

  15. Rohan Dixit says:

    Hi Emilie !
    The video is cool and so was the hair :)
    All I would like to say is a big “THANK YOU!”.
    It was your Ted-X video that made me realize I am a multipod myself and from that moment on I have shed all tension/panic of being a person with more than one calling in life.
    I seriously wish that we had a place where everyone like us could reside together and this website is a great step towards that dream !
    Keep up the good work.
    All the best !
    RD

  16. Susan Stoddart says:

    Beautifully Expressed – Thank you!

  17. Jade Craven says:

    I’ve been in work mode all day so apologies for being nerdy here :P

    Maybe add this info to your “start here” or about page? Personally I never made the connection. If I had, it would have changed how I viewed the site. Initially I was a bit confused and that put me off diving in. Not a criticism, you know how I’m all about word of mouth :)

  18. Berto says:

    Hi Emilie and every puttypeep out there!

    First: I can’t tell you how many hours I spend watching videos about different topics on youtube BUT, until I discovered you, it never happened to me feeling so understood, so mirrored on someone as I felt with your story and experiencies…so, THANK YOU for existing and rising your voice, really THANK YOU!

    Well, it can happen to have different passions and fields you have explored which are very diverse and opposite…my question is, if you encourage “multipotentialities” to embrace their truly vital passions meaning that this “mixture” can result in an unexisting job position, are you then encouraging us to be entrepreneurs and start our own business? (since any fullfilling task for us would misfit any position)

    cheers