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#19720 - 02/20/01 06:44 AM Coined words  
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"My seven-year old coined this word. Could you tell me how I can get it
into a dictionary?" Questions like this pop up in my mailbox from time to
time, from folks wondering how to get a word to take up residence amidst
the hallowed leaves of a lexicon. Thousands of new words do enter the
dictionaries every year. So, what is the criterion behind their inclusion?
What does a word have to do to be worthy of being called `legitimate?' Who
decides what is a good word and what is not?

Usage is the single most important factor to determine if a word gains
membership of that exclusive club. It has to appear extensively, in
many different sources, such as newspapers, magazines, books, TV, radio,
Internet, etc., over several years to show that it is gaining currency. It
has to fill a need and describe a phenomenon for which no other word
exists. Also, it doesn't hurt if the word is catchy and captures public
imagination.

Dictionary editors read a wide variety of sources to monitor the language.
They take notes--known as citations--on little 3x5 index cards or in a
computer database. Once there is enough evidence, they consider whether to
include it in the next edition of their dictionary, and if the answer is yes,
work to define it precisely. Here is an example of a made-up word, which
long-time AWAD subscribers know well, that got into the dictionary. The word
linguaphile, which I coined back in 1994, finally found a place in a dictionary
six years later (in the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th ed., 2000).

So how do you win that honor for your little baby? It's not easy. Share it
with family and friends, use it and encourage them to publish letters,
articles, stories using that word. And even if it doesn't make it into the
dictionary, remember that it is still a bona fide word -- nothing in the
definition of the word `word' says that a word has to be in a dictionary to
be called one. Have fun coining words, and enjoy this week's coinages that
DID reach the dictionaries.


#19721 - 02/20/01 05:47 PM Re: Coined words  
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OOOOH! How I've been waiting for the opportunity to post about this! I figure that one way I can leave my eternal mark on this world (at least in the annals of "Faddish Pop Culture" - and now that there are graduate degrees in Pop Culture to be had, at least there'll be someone to tend the annals) is to originate some catch phrase that will be inextricably tied to some point on the zeitgeist continuum. "Yadda yadda yadda" defines the Seinfeld 90s. "Sit on it" and "Aaaaaay" were the Happy Days 70s. I think you know where I'm going. I aspire to bring the phrase "Con leche, baby" into the popular lexicon if for no other reason than to say I did it. I envision it to mean something akin to "And how!" - just an enthusiastic assent.

I don't care how it happens... interject it into water cooler conversation. Tell your children to use the phrase at school. Mention it in passing to your Hollywood script-writer friend. Please do your part to make my dream come true.


#19722 - 02/20/01 06:03 PM Re: Coined words  
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someone to tend the annals

...for study by Annal Retentives?


#19723 - 02/20/01 06:05 PM Re: con leche, baby  
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this too shall pass
fiber (if I may be familiar), babe, as a fellow minneapolitan I think I can safely predict that this will NOT catch on at Java Jack's.


#19724 - 02/20/01 06:19 PM Re: Coined words  
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well, when 7, my children didn't coin any words-- but at 4 my daughter introduced to the family a new, and still used (in our family at any rate) expression.

Her brother was showing off his newly learned ability to write real words and sentences (he was in 1st grade) Emily filled a page with squiggles, and showed it off, only to be told it was just "scribble scabble"-- she indignately held her head up, and said "no its not, Its toy script!" and so we now have toy script in our house. it is very discriptive, and simple. and sound so much less like a put down. So kids don't scribble in our family-- but sometimes they make toy script!


#19725 - 02/20/01 06:33 PM Re: Coined words  
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this too shall pass
insignificant other - someone with whom you have a short-term or off-and-on relationship


#19726 - 02/21/01 01:43 AM Re: Coined words  
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...for study by Annal Retentives?
Who let Freud in here?



#19727 - 02/21/01 05:11 AM Re: Coined words  
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Jakarta
Fiberbabe: there'll be someone to tend the annals

Maverick:for study by Annal Retentives?

Isn't fibre/fiber what you take for that problem?





Bingley


Bingley
#19728 - 02/21/01 12:18 PM local lexicographer  
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lower upstate New York
Just for the record, we have a contributor to the OED in our midst:

http://wordsmith.org/board/showflat.pl?Cat=&Board=announcements&Number=15608


#19729 - 02/21/01 01:03 PM Re: Coined words--Mc something  
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A few years ago in the US, any scandel was called a "gate" after the Watergate break-in-- so we had a "Contra Gate" and others. Now the trend is to us Mc as in Mc Donalds to define something.

A few weeks ago, the NY TImes used McMansion to define the newest style of homes going up and being remodeled in metro areas. Large, oversized for the lot, with two story foyers complete with crystal chandeliers, they have a sameness about them that suggests mass production-- even though most are sold as "custom" houses.

They do seem to be made to a formula-- and they sell fast. but people with Mcjobs can't afford Mc Mansions!


#19730 - 02/21/01 04:04 PM Re: Coined words  
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this too shall pass
swoophead - a balding man who lets the remaining hair on one side grow long and then swoops it over the top of his head in a futile and ridiculous attempt to cover the bald spot.


#19731 - 02/21/01 04:42 PM Re: Coined words--Mc something  
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I wonder if some of the Mcxxxx words are not just a variation on the old "micky mouse" pejorative.


#19732 - 02/21/01 06:08 PM Re: Coined words  

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swoophead - a balding man who lets the remaining hair on one side grow long and then swoops it over the top of his head in a futile and ridiculous attempt to cover the bald spot.

bloody *hilarious*. when i was little my best friend's dad did this, and actually extended it into a nice cinnamonrollesque curliequeue, ostensibly to make it appear more natural. it was great fun to watch him make his way into church on a windy day; i was always half surprised that the rudder it formed as it lifted didn't make him airborne.

while i'm on the subject of hilarity, of troy's "McMansion" absolutely cracked me up. there's a ton of that going on near where i live, since there's a surplus of money and a shortage of space, but i'd never heard that term. my husband and i privately refer to them as cookie-cutters, or edward scissorhands houses, since their driveways are literally side-by-side and it's easy to imagine all of the neighbors backing out of their identical driveways en masse on their way to work in the morning. Seven or eight hundred thousand will get you a beautifully appointed house, indeed, but it'd hardly be worth the lack of privacy or opportunity to have a unique home reflective of your own personal style.




#19733 - 02/21/01 07:30 PM Re: Coined phrase  
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Portland, Oregon
Credit to my Aunt Adeline for this one:

VW Bug = pregnant rollerskate


#19734 - 02/22/01 05:23 AM Re: Coined phrase  
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Jakarta
Sorry Aunt Adeline, but that was a joke doing the rounds at school in the early 70s if not the late 60s.

Bingley


Bingley
#19735 - 02/22/01 08:46 AM Re: swoophead  
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I've heard the term "comb-over"(pronounced as one word) used to describe the same thing.


#19736 - 02/22/01 01:20 PM Re: Coined words--Mc something  
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cary, nc, usa
>>>Mcxxxx ..."micky mouse" pejorative.

I suppose the adult population might make the mickey mouse reference, but certainly not Gen-Xers. (the first time I heard someone tell me something was too 'mickey mouse' for their taste I thought "what a stupid phrase." I didn't realize it's popularity among my elders until afterward.) To me, Mcxxxx could only be in reference to McDonalds.

I have heard my college colleagues refer to their McJobs for years, but I didn't realize the word actually made its way into any dictionary.


#19737 - 02/22/01 01:50 PM Re: Coined words--Mc something  
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made its way into any dictionary.

I propose the variant McDiction for all such adoptions


#19738 - 02/22/01 02:17 PM Re: swoophead  
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this too shall pass
>I've heard the term "comb-over"...

that's what I used to call it.


#19739 - 02/26/01 12:14 PM Re: Coined words--Mc something  
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HeadCheese Offline
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NYC
I can't believe Coupland is getting credit for this word. Check out the following 2 links to find out where the word really came from, and how old it is (1981).

http://www.media.mcdonalds.com/secured/company/diversity/

http://www.mcspotlight.org/people/witnesses/employment/stein.html


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