January’s Non-words of the Day

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First, some words that I wished I could have used. I wanted to used haberdash as a verb meaning “to run after a hat that has blown off your head.” But haberdash is already a verb (to deal in small things, hence haberdasher) and the Urban Dictionary lists it as meaning to jump into someone else’s photograph. I’m not quite ready to just redefine existing words. Too bad. Haberdash should mean chasing your hat.

And I wanted to use ginormal to mean something that is now normally larger than it used to be—supersized. But ginormal is in the Urban Dictionary as “Ginormously normal. 2: Something that is extremely average. 3: Something that is far from being out of ordinary.” Again, I like my definition better. The Urban Dictionary’s are, well, extremely average and far from being out of ordinary. But so far I haven’t come up with another word that fits the definition I had in mind. So feel free to use ginormal my way.

I hoped to use quatement and queech to refer to statements posing as questions and (still worse) speeches posing as questions (if you’ve ever attended an academic talk you know what I mean). But the Urban Dictionary already uses quatement to describe uptalk—statements made with question intonation. And queech is in there as well, with three meanings.

I toyed with using pubbub to mean “bar fight” but pubbub seemed to be in use already in other ways, so I switched it up to snubbub.

Some acknowledgements—textumble came from a conversation with geology professor Charles Lane about a year ago and has been rattling around in my head ever since (and it presented an interesting spelling challenge—textumble, texttumble, or textstumble, with a silent s). Improvision is based on a suggestion by my colleague Margaret Perrow. Every-which-wayiness is a compound that I overheard in a talk by linguist Lucy Thomason, who used it to refer to hair. I liked the idea of extending that to tangled arguments as well.

Thanks again to Rick Bleiweiss, Leroy Fulwiler and Lucia Hadella for their suggestions: travelostity, spamplitude and jobportunity. I wanted to use Mary Maher’s suggested neuterize, a synonym for neuter (with the wonderfully ironic redundant suffix), but the Urban Dictionary already had neuterize listed with the not-bad meaning of “To make men and women, and society, devoid of gender tendencies or characteristics in the attempt to eliminate feminity [sic.] and masculinity.” Hmm, feminity … a found non-word.

Here are January’s Non-Words:

    resolvevolvolution n. A new year’s resolution made many times before (from resolve +(re)volve+(resol)ution). 1 Jan

    exitstentialist n. paranoid fatalist who insists on being seated facing the door in restaurants. 2 Jan

    anakimbo adj. any human body position in which the hands are not on the hips with elbows pointed outward. 3 Jan

    caucauphony n. quadrennial noise from the Iowa caucuses, not to be confused with cawcawphony, a symphony of crows. 4 Jan

    frontlong adj. directed straight ahead, as in a frontlong glance. 5 Jan

    diaperarazzi n. paparazzo who specialize in photos of celebrities’ newborns. 6 Jan

    para-abnormal adj. a contranym meaning both normal and abnormally paranormal. 7 Jan

    orphography, n. – font styles that no one can read (eg, Kunstler Script). 8 Jan

    whych – interrogative pronoun (pronounced WHY-CH), which and why, as in “Whych do you prefer?” 9 Jan

    qweach, n. a speech disguised as a question, esp. one asked after an academic talk (also spelled queech, queach). 10 Jan

    textumble, v. or n. to fall up or down steps while texting, or the fall itself. 11 Jan

    dawndle, v. not getting out of bed when the alarm goes off (from dawn + dawdle). 12 Jan

    slurname, n. a surname which is homophonous with an ethnic, racial, sexual or other slur. 13 Jan

    bainstaking, n. or adj. extracting short-term profit through layoffs, factory closings, and planned bankruptcies. 14 Jan

    Jojones, n. addiction-like craving for deep-fried potato wedges. 15 Jan

    throught (pronounced THRAWT) n. a thought that makes you overly excited or anxious (from thought + wrought). 16 Jan

    virony, (pronounced VI-rony or VIR-ony), n. veiled irony expressed by females about or toward males. 17 Jan

    ropadopamine, n. neurotransmitter which produces a calmness that allows one to outlast one’s adversaries. 18 Jan

    precipapointment, n. the unfulfilled expectation of a snow day. 19 Jan

    begoogled, adj. lost for long stretches of time sifting through marginally relevant search results. 20 Jan

    every-which-wayiness, n. randomly tangled and protruding, used of both hair and argumentation. 21 Jan

    flabricate, v. to lie about one’s waist size or weight. 22 Jan

    banggage, n. political baggage resulting from past infidelities. 23 Jan

    improvision, n. the act of providing by improvising (or scrounging). 24 Jan

    soarical, adj. lyrical, lofty or aspirational but not to an icarian degree. 25 Jan

    snubbub, n. a noisy misunderstanding arising from a perceived slight. 26 Jan

    flossolalia, n. unintelligible speech that occurs when you talk to someone while flossing your teeth. 27 Jan

    travelostity, n. aimless driving that occurs when males refuse to read maps or ask directions (from Rick Bleiweiss). 28 Jan

    irrigorous, adj. 1. having low standards, easy, 2. extremely inaccurate. 29 Jan

    jobportunity, n. the opportunity to have a job [the p is silent] (suggested by Lucia Hadella). 30 Jan

    spamplitude, n. the ratio of spam to useful mail in your inbox (suggested by Leroy Fulwiler). 31 Jan

Got a favorite? Or a suggestion? Post a comment. Or email me at edbattistella followed by usual gmail stuff.

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Sorry About That: The Language of Public Apology was released by Oxford University Press in June of 2014.
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