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Mar 12, 2018
This week’s theme
Tosspot words

This week’s words
scofflaw
killjoy
sawbones
spoilsport
dreadnought

scofflaw
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

This week marks 24 years of Wordsmith.org. It was on March 14 in 1994 that I started what grew into this organization with members in more than 170 countries.

Thank you for being a part of us -- you are what makes Wordsmith.org.

There’s no word for a 24-year anniversary, but we can coin one: quadrivicennial, from quadri- (four) + vicenary (relating to 20 years).

Tosspot Contest

To celebrate this occasion, we are organizing a tosspot contest.

Last year I featured the term pinchgut (a miserly person) You could very well use the term gutpincher, which is how we typically coin words, but pinchgut is more direct. The verb comes first. The action gets to the gut faster.

The English language has many such colorful terms to describe people, from smellfungus (a habitual faultfinder or complainer), to lickspittle (a servile flatterer), to makebate (one who incites quarrels), and beyond.

These words, which follow the pattern verb + noun to describe a person, have been called tosspot words.

How to Enter

Are you a “coinword”? If so, what tosspot word have you come up with? Email them to contest@wordsmith.org or post them below by this Friday, Mar 16, 2018. Include your location. [See results]

Prizes

Selected entries will win their choice of a signed copy of any of my books or a copy of the word game One Up!

To prime the pump, do you know anyone who could be described as a tweetbull (or tweetbunk)? Also, this week we’ll feature five tosspot words that are already a part of the English language.

scofflaw

PRONUNCIATION:
(SKOF-law)

MEANING:
noun: One who displays contempt for the law, especially in minor violations, such as failure to pay parking tickets.

ETYMOLOGY:
A combination of scoff (to mock), from Middle English scof + law, from Old English lagu, from Old Norse (lagu), plural of lag (something laid or fixed). Earliest documented use: 1924.

NOTES:
It’s not often that a word coined as a result of a competition becomes part of the language, but scofflaw did. In 1924, during Prohibition, banker Delcevare King of Quincy, Massachusetts announced a contest to coin a word to describe “a lawless drinker”. The prize was $200 in gold. Of the more than 25,000 entries that poured in, coinages such as wetocrat, violist, boozshevic lost out to the scofflaw. Read all about it here.

USAGE:
“The cop knew our address and would drive her home, which is why our scofflaw luckily never went to the pound. My mother would apologize, yet again, and pay the ticket.”
Amy Sutherland; Rescuing Penny Jane; Harper; 2017.

See more usage examples of scofflaw in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Whenever you commend, add your reasons for doing so; it is this which distinguishes the approbation of a man of sense from the flattery of sycophants and admiration of fools. -Richard Steele, author and editor (12 Mar 1672-1729)

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