Wordsmith.org: the magic of words


About | Media | Search | Contact  


Today's Word

Yesterday's Word



Oct 15, 2017
This week’s theme
There’s a word for it

This week’s words
mise en abyme

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

AWADmail archives

Next week’s theme
Words made with combining forms

Like what you see here?
Send a gift subscription

Bookmark and Share Facebook Twitter Digg MySpace Bookmark and Share

AWADmail Issue 798

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor’s Message: Pinkawillinie. Karkoo. Koonibba. Eucla. The names don’t exactly roll off the tongue, and seem almost comically made-up, like some down-under, straight-to-tv cartoon movie. But they’re real and really do exist -- we know, we’ve been there. We invite this week’s Email of the Week winner, Tom Slakey (see below), as well as all armchair adventurers to come along on our Australian cautionary tale of excess, idiocy, and pathos -- that almost ends surprisingly. Live it vicariously here>

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

If Your Child is Bilingual, Learning Additional Languages Later Might Be Easier
U of Georgetown

The Less. Umm. Fewer the Better
Language Log

Seattle Computer Scientist Hones in on the Power of Words

From: Edel O’Hara (e.ohara qub.ac.uk)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--acarophobia

When we were pharmacy undergraduates, a lecturer described one drug as having a side effect of formication. He said he lost count of the number of times that students wrote that the side effect was fornication.

Edel O’Hara, Belfast, Northern Ireland

From: Robert Richter (drbobric aol.com)
Subject: acarophobia

Consider the images conjured up by advertising slogans with ambiguously placed modifiers. Three examples:

giant flea market (talk about acarophobia!)
baby oil (are the babies sedated before they are squeezed?)
dried cat food (PETA would have something to say about this)

Robert Richter, MD, New York, New York

From: Mike Wagner (mike wildcardvideo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--exclosure

Isn’t that what our fearless (senseless) leader wants? He calls it a “fence”.

Mike Wagner, Miami, Florida

From: Robert Carleton (enchanted128 outlook.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--exclosure

Exclosure! Here in New Mexico, we are a “fence out” state. Cattle are not required to be secured by fences. Rangeland can be open. Folks who desire to keep cows off their lawn need to build walls or fences. Of course, many pet owners who don’t want Fluffy to become coyote food install fences, though that doesn’t eliminate the threats from above.

Robert Carleton, Albuquerque, New Mexico

From: Reuben Kura Sanderson (via website comments)
Subject: exclosure

I live near a very large and very valuable exclosure, the predator fence surrounding the Karori bird sanctuary near central Wellington. New Zealand has no native mammals apart from a rare and shy bat, and so its birdlife evolved into trusting, flightless forms. Many species are already extinct, quite a few are heading that way, and keeping rodents, cats, etc., out of reach of the remainder is vital to their survival. A mouse-proof exclosure around a former reservoir is doing the job beautifully in Wellington. Thanks for providing this term for such a very important facility.

Reuben Kura Sanderson, Wellington, New Zealand

From: Grant Agnew (ggttwwaa gmail.com)
Subject: exclosure

In Australia we are very familiar with the idea of exclosure -- we have twice tried to keep certain animals (rabbits and dingos = native dogs) out of certain areas by building fences running for thousands of kilometres. We are therefore also very familiar with the fact that exclosure rarely works. These fences were successful in greatly reducing numbers, but not in creating rabbit-free and dingo-free zones.

Grant Agnew, Brisbane, Australia

From: Mary Taslimi (mary.taslimi cogeco.ca)
Subject: exclosure

Today’s word immediately made me think of the famous Dingo Fence in Australia. I notice Wikipedia calls it a “pest-exclusion fence”, but “exclosure” just seems so much tidier and more precise!

Mary Taslimi, Waterdown, Canada

From: Ullrich Fischer (ullrich.fischer gmail.com)
Subject: Exclosure

So a fence around the yard of a person with small children and a dog is both an ex- and an enclosure. Is there another pair of words to cover this situation and the situation where there was once an ex- or enclosure but it has fallen into disrepair? Could that be called an exenclosure (as in it was one but isn’t now)? The dual purpose fence could then be called an enexclosure to point to its dual purpose of keeping wanted animals in and unwanted animals out? :) Thanks for this intriguing word. I’ve never run across it in the wild.

Ullrich Fischer, Surrey, Canada

Email of the Week: Me, Tarzan, you, One Up! -- 1,000,000 words and worlds in your loincloth. Brachiate away...

From: Fred J. Hancock (fredupfront comcast.net)
Subject: Exclosure

This word, totally reasonable to me as a high school Latin student many years ago in NH, brought to mind immediately the words of Robert Frost in the Mending Wall:

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,

Very applicable to the present.

Fred J. Hancock, Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts

From: Karol Silverstein (karolinas aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--untrack

I was so pleased to see the news today (there’s a sentence I rarely type these days!) that the Boy Scouts of America had untracked their ban on transgender boys joining the Scouts.

Karol Silverstein, West Hollywood, California

From: Shannon Quignon (squignon pasco.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mise en abyme

My favorite example of mise en abyme is a scene from the movie Spaceballs in which they’re watching the movie as they’re making it. (video, 1 min.)

Shannon Quignon, Roseville, California

From: Denise Thorn (denisethorn gmail.com)
Subject: mise en abyme

At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016 there was a piece of theatre by a company called Mice On A Beam, with a suitable illustration on their advertising of, well, some mice on a beam. Having enjoyed the play, I checked out the origin of their name and learnt the phrase mise en abyme. Their work lived up to the witty promise.

Denise Thorn, Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland

From: Michael New (mike noozoo.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--mise en abyme

People also like to use Inception to refer to this, after the movie. “Recursion” in computer science and logic.

In the UK, the Cotswolds, in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water there is a small model of the town itself.

The model itself contains a model, and its model does too! This pic shows all four levels.

It looks like the village model has been renovated since I took the above pictures in 2001 or so.

Michael New, Ottawa, Canada

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: mise en abyme

The composer Richard Strauss and his librettist Hugo von Hofmannsthal favoured this method several times in their collaboration, notably in the opera Ariadne auf Naxos that is supposed to be a play-within-the-play in their take on Moliere’s Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. The resulting hybrid proving too long, the latter resolved itself into an orchestral suite. Never one to discard a good idea, the composer of the self-serving tone poem Ein Heldenleben (in which he represents himself as the hero in his depiction of family life) used it once again in his last opera Capriccio, subtitled A Conversation Piece for Music.

Of course, this was not an entirely new idea; even Mozart used it in Don Giovanni where he quotes one of his arias from The Marriage of Figaro during the wedding celebration of Zerlina and Masetto. Also worth mentioning is the French-language birthday song addressed to Tatyana by the music master Triquet in Tchaikovsky’s Russian opera Eugene Onegin. In literature, in David Mitchell’s masterpiece Cloud Atlas each sub-plot is nested within a preceding story, only to have the process reversed in the exact middle of the novel.

Andrew Pressburger, Toronto, Canada

From: Elain Witt (elainwitt gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--zetetic

Are you absolutely sure the earth is round? I would love to hear your arguments on behalf of the globe. It’s not the slam-dunk you think it is.

Elain Witt, Provo, Utah

Life is too short to debate things that have been settled for thousands of years. That said, it never hurts to err on the side of caution. Next time you get into in a boat, be sure to have a chat with the captain first to make sure he’s not one of those globists and ends up going dangerously close to the edge of the Earth.
-Anu Garg

From: Marisa Handler (marisahandler gmail.com)
Subject: Invented words

Gorgugly: when something is so ugly it becomes gorgeous.

Marisa Handler, Berkeley, California

From: Kiran Jhamb (jhamb.jhamb gmail.com)
Subject: bliskering

Instead of conjugal bliss, I use conjugal bliskering. Bliskering is a portmanteau of the words bliss and bickering, the two inseparables of marital life.

Kiran Jhamb, Nagpur, India

From: Joe Lee (joeparislee1 bigpond.com)
Subject: exhaustipated

I believe I coined a new word in my ebook, “A Job For Joe”: “exhaustipated”. Needs no explanation.

Joe Paris Lee, Mornington, Australia

From: Peter Johnston (johnston csag.uct.ac.za)
Subject: Twoloodle

Twoloodle, the strange habit of visiting a restaurant restroom in twos.

Peter Johnston, Cape Town, South Africa

From: Gene Riggs (generiggs earthlink.net)
Subject: saling

Here in Tucson, we use the word saling pertaining to yard sales. For example, one might ask “Did you go yard saling last weekend?”

Gene Riggs, Tucson, Arizona

From: Sharon Wenzel (zingari q.com)
Subject: coined words

Here’s one: NO-K. When something isn’t good, it’s NO K!

Sharon Wenzel, Louisville, Colorado

From: Gunnar Olesen (olesengunnar1 gmail.com)
Subject: palinstrophe

My homegrown word is palinstrophe. It’s a word which remains unaltered when turned upside down and read the same direction as always (left to right).
NewmaN / NewmaN
or my daughter Ane: aNe / aNe

Gunnar Olesen, Børkop, Denmark

From: Peter Scandrett (scandrett optusnet.com.au)
Subject: Words I’ve coined

I often use the following related words:
Slowgress: Very slow progress
Nogress: No progress at all
Everyone seems to understand their meaning.

Peter Scandrett, Eastwood, Australia

From: Laurie DiCesare (NatureHaven myfairpoint.net)
Subject: Plowridge

My coined word is plowridge. It’s that esker of snow that remains after you’ve just shoveled out your driveway and turn around to see that the town snowplow has cleared the main road but left you an extra row to shovel...before a cold evening hardens it into ice. The word may also work for ridges of soil left after plowing a field.

Laurie DiCesare, Milton, Vermont

From: Carol Botteron (cjbotteron gmail.com)
Subject: ambisinistrapedal

I used to teach ballroom dancing. Some of my students were ambisinistrapedal, i.e. they had two left feet.

Carol Botteron, Santa Claus, Arizona

From: Michael Shpizner (michael.shpizner us.fujitsu.com)
Subject: Stockenfreude

Stockenfreude: the gloating feeling you have when you sell a stock and immediately afterwards its price falls significantly. <grin>

Michael Shpizner, Sunnyvale, California

From: Brian Moynihan (brianmoynihan44 gmail.com)
Subject: Nowaca

Nowaca: NOt Worth the Calories. This word expresses an unfavorable ratio of a food’s quantity of the degree to which a food is “worth it” to its calorie count. As such, it is a very subjective. For instance, for some people high-calorie donuts might be preferable to equally high-calorie muffins, or all of a certain kind of food might be completely nowaca despite its tastiness.
Usage: “Those pastries are totally nowaca.” Opposite is waca.

Brian Moynihan, Carrboro, North Carolina

From: Tisa McCombs (tisajune gmail.com)
Subject: Made-up words

My pals and I have often used the word FOMA to fondly describe another friend who, when she is here on her time off, (we live in a resort area) tries manically to do everything listed in our community calendar. Hikes, races, plays, lectures, dinners, movies, etc. etc. More often than not, multiple events in one day. Thus her nickname FOMA: Fear Of Missing Out.

Tisa McCombs, Ketchum, Idaho

From: Murray Enkin (enkin mcmaster.ca)
Subject: tokothanatology

For the study of the relationship between birth and death, the two poles of life. From the combination of tokology, the study of birth, and thanatology, the study of death.

Murray Enkin, Victoria, Canada

From: Linda Jones (finallylbj gmail.com)
Subject: a new word?

I often have what I call sneizures or sneezures, when I sneeze repeatedly, sometimes for 12 or more times in a row.

Linda Jones, Hingham, Massachusetts

From: Gabriele Mayer-Hunke (gabisensei hotmail.com)
Subject: newly coined word

Here is my word I used extensively in my freshman composition classes:

underwiggle, v. This goes along the line of “underline”, which places a line under a particular word. “Underwiggle” places a wiggly line under a particular word.

“Let’s underline the subject in the sentence and underwiggle the verb.”

Gabriele Mayer-Hunke, Professor Emerita, English and German, Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction, Colorado

From: David Bratt (dvd_bratt yahoo.com)
Subject: Gesol

Gesol = gastroenteritis solution or glucose electrolyte solution. Used to orally rehydrate children or adults who are dehydrated from gastroenteritis (diarrhoea). First used by me on the Gastro Ward at the Port of Spain General Hospital in 1982.

According to Google the word also exists with a similar meaning in the Romanian language.

David E Bratt, CMT, MD, MPH, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies

From: Abhijit Ganguly (obi opuscdm.com)
Subject: coined word

A colleague coined this word to describe inconsiderate people on a metro train:
metrocious: atrocious behaviour when riding the metro.

Abhijit Ganguly, Bangalore, India

From: Nelson (nelsonmybalo gmail.com)
Subject: Coined words

A few years ago I coined the word absonym (abs for absent, onym for name), which refers to a place that was named for what defined it before its defining characteristic was obliterated by development, such as a place called Quail Crossing, where due to development you are certain to never see a quail, or Meadow View for a place that for the same reason has no meadow in sight.

Nelson, Ha Noi, Viet Nam

From: Susan James (searex earthlink.net)
Subject: New World/New Word

The word I coined is phanderize meaning to oversell or exaggerate the positive aspects of something. It comes from traveling in northern Pakistan to the town of Phander, which all of the literature I could find told me would be a Shangri-La. When I got there it was flooded, freezing, and accommodation-free, totally oversold as a Pakistani paradise. So in a sentence: “The author of the guidebook has phandarized the charms of [fill in the blank] shamelessly.” Or “The abilities of the new iPhone have been phandarized beyond recognition.” Or “The White House has phanderized the advantages of the proposed tax bill duplicitously.”

Susan James, La Canada, California

From: Richard S. Russell (RichardSRussell tds.net)
Subject: religiot

Religiot: a portmanteau word combining “religious”, “bigot”, and “idiot”.

Richard S. Russell, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Leslie DeBrock (debrocklw c895fm.com)
Subject: Hard-of-learning

Accepting your invitation to share a coined word (or phrase?): hard-of-learning.

Leslie DeBrock, Bellingham, Washington

From: Sue Toorans (suetoo svpal.org)
Subject: mouso

Mouso (short for mousographical error) - What happens when you cut and paste the wrong thing with your computer mouse.

Sue Toorans, Santa Clara, California

From: Wendy Graff (wendyg seanet.com)
Subject: snoodge

Over twenty years ago, our daughter coined the word snoodge to describe that delicious feeling when you get to stay in bed just a little longer, not really sleeping, not really awake. She always loved her sleep -- still does -- and those mornings when she didn’t have to jump up at an alarm were so precious that they deserved their own word. Snoodge has become part of our family lexicon: “I didn’t really nap, but I snoodged.”

Wendy Graff, Seattle, Washington

From: Scott Sumner-Moore (ssm us.ibm.com)
Subject: Coined words

Years ago, I won a hoodie from “Infonomics” magazine for “ohshidiot” - that feeling you get when you realize a colleague just doesn’t get it.

Scott Sumner-Moore, Benicia, California

From: Randy Schwartz (hrschwartz2 earthlink.net)
Subject: Schwartzcut

Schwartzcut: When you meant to take a shortcut, but got lost, making your route longer in time and distance than originally planned. Named after its greatest utilizer, me (Randy Schwartz). This is different from a “longcut”, which is longer, but faster.

Randy Schwartz, Boulder, Colorado

From: Deborah Coe Tomasello (coedeborah aol.com)
Subject: technodiot

Are you a person, perhaps of a certain age, who simply cannot wrap your head around computer navigation? Do you sweat every time the powers that be switch things up on you? You are then, like me, a technodiot.

Deborah Coe Tomasello, Croton-on-Hudson, New York

From: Christopher A. Weaver (chrweave gmail.com)
Subject: Pygocalypsis

Years ago, I entered “pygocalypsis” into the Urban Dictionary. I thought that a term was needed for covering one’s buttocks as if to deflect legal arrows, that was, on its surface, politer than CYA.

Christopher A. Weaver, Huntsville, Alabama

From: John Stack IV (jstackiv gmail.com)
Subject: Sciazomorphic

Sciazomorphic: Shadows that seem to change into animals. (from Greek shadow + animal +change).
Usage: As the hunter walked through the woods after a long day of seeing nothing, twilight approached. He thought he saw a buck emerging from a copse, raised his gun, then realized it was nothing more than a sciazomorphic velleity and went home empty-handed.

John Stack IV, Dubach, Louisiana

From: Piers Beirne (beirne maine.edu)
Subject: coined word: theriocide

Theriocide [from Greek therion: wild beast] refers to those diverse human actions that cause the deaths of animals. Like the killing of one human by another (e.g., homicide, infanticide, and femicide), a theriocide may be socially acceptable or unacceptable, legal or illegal. It may be intentional or unintentional. It may involve active maltreatment or passive neglect. Theriocides may occur one-on-one, in small groups or in large-scale social institutions. The numerous sites of theriocide include one-on-one acts of cruelty and neglect, state theriocide, factory farming, hunting and blood sports, the lethal trade in wildlife, vivisection, militarism and war, pollution, and human-induced climate change.

Piers Beirne, Bowdoinham, Maine

From: Paul M Wexelblat (wex mac.com)
Subject: Already Whelmed

You wrote: What words have you coined?


Aw, cummon, I’m getting too old to learn new words, ain’t we got enough already. I know all words so far and I’m having enough trouble with the plethora of new emojis and monolithically increasing number of new cellphone abbreviations. Gimme a brake (pun intended).

Paul M Wexelblat, Concord, Massachusetts

From: Phillip Schopper (philopper aol.com)
Subject: heartworn

I am a film editor and in late 1976 I coined the word “heartworn” for the title of our music documentary, Heartworn Highways. We had finished the film under the working title New Country, and the director, James Szalapski, and the producer, Graham Leader, and I were struggling to come up with a title that more appropriately or emotionally suited to the movie. Highways were kind of a leitmotif in the film and the music was all original and clearly heartfelt. I kept thinking of being weary of pain and heartache and began to think of the heart as something that could be shopworn or careworn and proposed Heartworn Highways. It sounded right to us and we went with it.

For what it’s worth, the film has quite a following and a kind of sequel of sorts, Heartworn Highways Revisited, is soon to be released. Since the release of the original, the word has been appropriated and used many times, but until possibly very recently I never found it in any dictionary.

Phillip Schopper, ACE, New York, New York

From: Mary-Alice Boulter (critterperson gmail.com) Subject: goodable

Once, when I was chastising my three--year-old son for doing something he knew was against the rules and potentially costly, I said, “That was abominable.” He, tiring of mom’s tirade, responded, fists on hips: “No. It was goodable!” End of lecture. Fifty years later we still laugh about it.

Mary-Alice Boulter, Port Angeles, Washington

Email of the Week: Me, Tarzan, you, One Up! -- 1,000,000 words and worlds in your loincloth. Brachiate away...

From: Tom Slakey (tslakey gmail.com)
Subject: limericku

The word “limericku” (a poem that is both a limerick and a haiku) is a new invention by Krishnan Venkatesh of Santa Fe, NM.

Here’s an example of a limericku, by Tom Slakey:

Trump’s big quest:
Build the best
Wall of granite
On the planet,
Then just rest.

Tom Slakey, Santa Clara, California

From: Sahir D’Souza (sahiravik gmail.com)
Subject: Coiner of Words, Mr Portmanteau, ILP.

Your email on coining words reminded me of a librarian who worked for a few years at my school. His name was the very grand Indrajit Laurence Panjabi (spelt that way, and not with the perhaps more common spellings of Indrajeet Lawrence Punjabi), and he is possibly the most eccentric man I have ever met.

He always had at least three pairs of glasses dangling at his neck, yet he would not wear a single one when peering closely at his mobile phone screen. He wore strange clothes, safari jackets with paw-prints on the back, a cap, coloured shirts, and so on.

His emails were never straightforward (NEVER!) message-delivering media; they were carefully crafted works of eccentric skill. He called himself ILP, referring always to himself in the third person, and when he wanted to say that he would do something, he would find a verb beginning with p to describe that action and attach it to his initials. An example? “ILPerused your last email.” Do you see?

He could never even send a text message without typing in this fashion, and he was entirely unabashed about it; he wrote cheerfully like this to everyone, from me to the principal of the school, from the teachers in the staffroom to my dad. It was simultaneously hilarious and exasperating. The teachers, I remember, came to view him as an oddity, somebody whose emails would be read aloud in the staffroom, laughed at, and then promptly deleted.

Six of us students in the ninth grade elected to study economics; since we were such a small class, the school couldn’t afford to allocate a separate room for us. We ended up spending a lot of time studying in the library, in close proximity to Indrajit Laurence Panjabi. Once, we were prancing around foolishly and he asked us, “Are you studying economics or eurhythmics?” I didn’t know whether to be flattered that he expected us to know what eurhythmics was, or to be exasperated that he couldn’t just say, “Stop dancing in the library.”

But he was also a prolific coiner of words. He once told us about his collection. He called himself not a librarian, but a “librateur” (do not ask why). He came up with the term “redestifying” -- when you’re walking towards someone on the street and you sidestep to avoid them, but they step in the same direction as you -- re (repetitive) + destiny + testifying = redestifying. Wonderful. Another of his words was “dayte”: instead of asking, “What’s the day, date, and time of the event?”, just ask “what’s the dayte?” So economical!

At the time, we laughed at him. But over the years, I’ve come to appreciate and even admire his staunch efforts to be eccentric in an increasingly dull and mundane world. I think it’s time I write another email to him, I’m sure he’ll be ILPleased!

Sahir Avik D’Souza, Bombay, India

From: Shannon Griffin (shannon.griffin acma.gov.au)
Subject: ablandise

I had a situation at work where policy required me to publish a media release, but my manager didn’t really want it to attract any attention (because then she’d be stuck doing pointless media interviews all day when she had more important things to do). Her feedback was that my first draft of the release was a bit too emotive to effectively fly under the radar, so she asked me to tone it down a bit. I said “Oh, so you want me to ablandise it then?”

I’ve always been particularly proud of that one.

Shannon Griffin, Melbourne, Australia

From: Mim Eisenberg (mimbrava mindspring.com)
Subject: edititis

I transcribe oral history interviews and edit and proofread for a living, but if I should find and wish to correct errors I notice, say, on Facebook, I will private-message people and ask them to forgive me for suggesting a correction but that I have a self-diagnosed, incurable condition called edititis. It also manifests itself in stores, where I take my red pen to correct typos on signs. I was doing it this way before Lynne Truss wrote Eats, Shoots & Leaves.

Mim Eisenberg, Roswell, Georgia

From: Mac A Macdonald (maclyfe msn.com)
Subject: Negaholism - I first used the word in 1986, and this was the context

Once in one of my seminars during a question-and-answer session, a woman humorously asked, “Why should I walk through life when I could be driven by fear?” After we all chuckled at the humor and cleverness of her statement, I agreed and said, “Yes, fear is a good motivator: but are you happy?” She said, “No, but then I am never disappointed, am I?”. Here is what I told her. Wouldn’t you agree that in life it is better to run towards something rather than run from something? Without a doubt, you certainly are running, which shows you are just as certainly motivated. But are you fulfilled? Fear is a powerful motivator, a sparking mover-and-shaker, but it is never ultimately satisfying, and, in fact, leads to the vexation of your spirit. It eventually peters out and becomes a demotivator. The effort to regain our enthusiasm becomes all the harder. Fear and pessimism eventually eat you up. They wear you down, then grind you up in a state of unhappiness. What if you could change a vicious cycle into a virtuous upward spiral? What if instead of being addicted to negahol you got hooked on hopeforal?

Mac A Macdonald, Seattle, Washington

From: K.E. Priyamvada (kepriyamvada gmail.com)
Subject: Twuplet

A word I’ve coined to describe a tweet in the form of a rhyming couplet: twuplet.

Like limerick and haiku, it describes a verse form. Here’s an example:

If a two-line rhyming verse is a couplet;
Is a two-line rhyming tweet a twuplet?

K.E. Priyamvada, Delhi, India

From: Ueli Hepp (u.hepp bluewin.ch)
Subject: There’s a word for it - Response to your question for Week 44

Rather than a single word, this is a short phrase for something that has no dictionary term -- as far as I know -- but often needs to be expressed. It originally goes back to a joke that I remember from my early youth, told by a childhood friend, who heard it from his grandfather, who in turn was a never-ending source of such funny stories:

There are these two men zooming along on a motorbike, when the one on the pillion seat leans forward even more and shouts into his friend’s ear, “Hey Tom, I think we should stop, the fender’s rattling.” Tom shouts back, “Can’t understand you, the fender’s rattling.”

So now we have a fixed expression in our family that’s always used when one of us says or shouts a message (usually from another room) that the addressee cannot understand because they are involved in some noisy activity -- such as running the bath, cooking with the fan going and the fat sizzling, etc. Instead of replying, ‘I’m sorry I can’t understand you, there’s too much noise going on here!’ we simply shout back, “Fender’s rattling.”

I’d be very interested in hearing if anyone else knows or has invented another way of wording this rather complex concept in an expression as short as this -- or even shorter!

For those who are interested: The original is -- according to the geographical location of the source story -- in Swiss/Zurich dialect and would be spelled like this: Schutzblääch tschätteret.

Ueli Hepp, Wald, Switzerland

From: Ross Paul (rpaul uwindsor.ca)
Subject: AFNAR

AFNAR -- someone who is “Arrogant For No Apparent Reason”. Everyone knows at least one afnar.

Ross Paul, Windsor, Canada

From: Jonathan Rickert (therickerts hotmail.com)
Subject: idiac

When our two children were small, they used to tear through the house with abandon, as many kids of their age are wont to do. My wife and I often said that they were running around like a couple of idiacs, a conflation of the words idiot and maniac. The term seemed, to us at least, to describe their actions in a way that existing words failed to do so accurately. The kids are grown now and have children of their own, but “idiac” remains part of our family’s vocabulary.

Jonathan Rickert, Washington, DC

From: Arthur Scotti (arthur.scotti gmail.com)
Subject: Anticipiss

I created this word a few years ago: anticipiss.

Arthur Scotti, Marcellus, New York

From: Mark Pottenger (markpott pacbell.net)
Subject: Mindo

Mindo: 1. A textual error produced by a mental error. 2. A mental error.

Mark Pottenger, San Diego, California

From: Bill Mintz (bmintz aol.com)
Subject: Pregret

Pregret: That sensation of sadness or sorrow that an experience will pass, before it is over.

Usage: That meal was so delicious that I had a feeling of pregret even as I had the first few bites.

Bill Mintz, Chicago, Illinois

From: Will Morgan (9455morgan gmail.com)
Subject: Mexication

A friend of mine would get her prescriptions filled in bulk while visiting her timeshare south of the border. She called it Mexication.

Will Morgan, Durango, Colorado

From: Ken Wilson (kwilson210 aol.com)
Subject: Frit

I worked with a rock band as a roadie in college. When tearing down the stage and loading the truck, there was a place for everything. When all the speakers and amps and instruments and drums were packed away, there was still the odd assortment of miscellaneous objects around. The “one of this and one of those” type of things. We labeled these, “frit”. And they all went into one special case that was called the “Frit Box”.

Therefore, I offer: Frit: a small collection of unrelated, miscellaneous objects that somehow are needed together.

Ken Wilson, Oregon

Photo: Lori Hulvey
From: Amy Metnick (aam3 catskill.net)
Subject: demagoggles

A little more than a year ago, during the US presidential campaign, I was alarmed by the possibility that a genuine demagogue would win the bid for the White House. Watching his speeches, it was clear that this man understands NOTHING and see the world through...


So that is my neologism, and I am happy to share an image of me at the Women’s March in Sarasota on Jan 22, 2017.

Amy Metnick, Margaretville, New York

From: Tom Generous (generous email.unc.edu)
Subject: Per

Per: A third-person singular pronoun which refers to a singular noun whose gender is not specific. It doesn’t vary in form by case. It’s an abbreviation of “person”.

It has fewer bytes than “he or she”, “his or her”, “him or her”, and because it’s grammatically singular, it’s correct unlike “they”, “their”, and “them”.

Usage: Each student will hand in per paper at the end of class today. Per must type it. I’ll return it to per on Monday morning.

Tom Generous, Carrboro, North Carolina

From: Jeremy Edwards (pazmundial gmail.com)
Subject: B-quaintance

B-quaintance: a person you don’t know who always shows up in your Facebook feed as “someone you may know” so that now you recognize them but you still don’t know who they are.

Jeremy Edwards, Austin, Texas

From: David Shaffer (dshaffer613 juno.com)
Subject: snoutfitting

The act, not limited to college dorms, of sniffing clothes to decide whether they can be worn one more time or need to be washed: snoutfitting.

David Shaffer, Jerusalem, Israel

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: acarophobia and mise en abyme

Acarophobia Mise en abyme
Who’d ‘ave thunk it? A thick-skinned, hulking pachyderm frightened by a measly little bug. But remember the “Cowardly Lion” from the film, The Wizard of Oz? Even the so-called mighty “King of Beasts” was not immune to irrational fears, or phobias.

Here, introspective science fiction scribe-turned-spiritual guru, L. Ron Hubbard, enrapt in a reverie-like state of “mise en abyme”, conjures up his “Dianetics”, the procedural lynchpin to his new-age religion... Scientology. When he was still living, some critics of the reclusive Hubbard and his “Church” called him a total charlatan, a clever huckster... reminiscent of “Snake Oil Sam”; essentially conning his followers with the prospect of finding spiritual enlightenment and eternal bliss (the state of “Clear”) through the practice of “Dianetics”. For a steep price, of course. Basically, pay-to-play religion.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

1. acarophobia
2. exclosure
3. untrack
4. mise en abyme
5. zetetic
= 1. anxiety
2. keep lambs out
3. a course, eh?
4. cameo
5. brazen critic
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: limericks

When she imagined that all over she did itch,
All her clothing top to bottom she would ditch.
Because of her acarophobia,
She earned her neighbors’ opprobria
When she ran throughout the ‘hood without a stitch.
-Vara Devaney, Damascus, Maryland (varadevaney att.net)

The old salt from far Outer Mongolia,
He complained of bad acarophobia.
His fear of insects
Had adverse side effects,
Which increased his great dread of dystopia.
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

Acarophobia? Not guilty.
I will save any spider, moth, or bee.
I always set them free
To a place of safety.
Little insects just don’t frighten me.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (loscamil aol.com)

If you suffer from acarophobia,
The ‘burbs are a nightmare dystopia.
Those bugs itty-bitty!
Please give me the city
With roaches the size of Mongolia.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The White House has become an exclosure,
Ousting rational thought and composure.
Compassion’s shut out,
Commonsense has no clout,
And gun-control gets no exposure.
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

We’ll close our minds and shut our gates
To “protect” the United States.
Our southern exposure
Demands an exclosure
To keep out the guys Trump hates.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

When the starlet got too much exposure,
Her dad finally lost his composure.
“At the beaches in Nice,
You must wear the top piece!”
He exclaimed, “It’s a crucial exclosure.”
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (janicepower25 gmail.com)

Consider a gated community, say,
And a guard who’s there to protect the way.
The exclosure is built,
With no sign of guilt,
To keep unwanted humans at bay.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

“Ivanka, as you two keep kosher,”
Said Donald, “I’ll build an exclosure.
The lobsters and pigs
Won’t get into your digs,
Or the bankers who sue for foreclosure.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Let’s face it, he doesn’t know jack.
We need Congress to pick up the slack.
Alas, though he’s reckless,
those guys are all feckless.
Hope it isn’t too late to untrack.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

Godiva, her spouse to untrack,
rides naked through town on horseback.
Most folks, as advised,
draw blinds, close their eyes,
but young Tom slyly spies through a crack.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Said Vlad, “Ze election ve’ll hack,
And soon Hillary Clinton untrack.
Ve’ll install through our coup
One of little IQ
And ze temperament of a macaque.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Most people give sleaze non-esteem,
‘Cept Weinstein and his “con” regime.
He tried to force starlets
To act out as harlots
In hotels -- his mise en abyme.
-Anna C. Johnston, Coarsegold, California (ajohnston13 gmail.com)

His mise en abyme is complete,
Splendido from head to his feet.
Upon self-reflection
He sees just perfection.
Now watch while he sends off a tweet.
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Some artists can treat any theme,
but ‘tis surely the crème de la crème,
when gazing, interior,
at the self, deemed inferior,
they produce a work mise en abyme!
-Brenda J. Gannam, Brooklyn, New York (gannamconsulting earthlink.net)

Giovanni Bertolini’s great line:
“Trump’s a spoof of a spoof of a man,”
Is a mise en abyme,
A bad dream in a dream.
Trump’s flushing us all down the can.
-Tom Slakey, Santa Clara, California (tomslimericks gmail.com)

“These plays full of mise en abyme,”
Complained Trump, “make a guy wanna scream.
Please spare me this litter.
Tell Shakespeare, ‘Use Twitter!’
So sad! My great words reign supreme.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Many a zetetic
in voices prophetic
forecast mankind’s death,
but like Nostradamus, wasted their breath,
their doomsday calls proving to be pathetic.
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Voters should have been more zetetic.
We elected a leader pathetic.
And there is no plus side,
He’s not Jekyll, he’s Hyde
(But he is my favorite emetic).
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

Poor Trump is feeling frenetic,
‘Bout Mueller’s little zetetic.
Will campaign’s collusion,
Come up in conclusion.
The justice will be poetic.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

Our POTUS is quite a zetetic
‘bout anything that airs prophetic.
For the things he dislikes,
He runs for the mics
And denounces the truth. It’s pathetic.
-Bill Raiford, Thomasville, Georgia (br2002 rose.net)

Said Maxwell, “My labor zetetic
Proves light is electromagnetic.
To Einstein and Bohrs
I have opened the door,”
He continued, in statements prophetic.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: If there’s a word for it, there’s a pun

In a race among luxury cars might an acaraphobia Lexus?

You’ll regret it if you let your exclosure bank account.

Trump’s speeches rarely stay untrack.

The ESL gymnast said, “Mise en abyme but next, me’s gonna vault.”

Asked how he got through life, the cynic replied, “Everything is cope zetetic.”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful. -Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, philosopher (15 Oct 1844-1900)

We need your help

Help us continue to spread the magic of words to readers everywhere


Subscriber Services
Awards | Stats | Links | Privacy Policy
Contribute | Advertise

© 1994-2024 Wordsmith