Non-words for May

Here are the non-words for May and today we begin month six! And thanks to Leroy Fulwiler, Kim D C Harper and Wilkins-O’Riley Zinn for their non-word contributions.

As you know—or maybe don’t—I try to curate the non-words by looking up the possible non-words to see if they are already in use as words. One of the surprising benefits of this has been to learn about some words that I didn’t know existed. Among them are tain, swelt, adject, smatter, inutile, acquittance, cessant, and wakelessness (this last one used by Emily Dickinson).

tridecadedication is a long non-word made up to recognize Steve Larvick and doug Kirby on their 30 years (each) of service at Southern Oregon University. I made an effort this month to add some very short non-words and to include an auxiliary verb. And I used thecal even though it exists as a botantical term; the allusion was too good to resist.

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    fetonyms, n. words or meanings joined by folk etymology, such as May Day and mayday (from the French word for “help”). 1 May

    shoedoo, n. the sticky film that gets on your shoes when you recycle cans or bottles ( w/ apologies to Andy Williams). 2 May

    unpalate, v. to cause something to be distasteful, unsavory or unpleasant (backformation from unpalatable). 3 May

    sesquipediment, n. a very long word that you have to stop and look up. 4 May

    fiesta résistance, n. the ultimate Cinco de Mayo celebration [from pièce de résistance, w/ thanks to Leroy Fulwiler]. 5 May

    ish adj. A separated affix meaning about; also, ishness, indicating a state of uncertainty (from Kim D. C. Harper). 6 May

    sult, v. to offer one’s unsolicited, uninformed opinion (a clipping of insult plus consult). 7 May

    humong, v. to make something much much bigger, to supersupersize (clipping of humongous). 8 May

    malastute, adj. lacking shrewdness or perspicaclty about one’s own concerns. 9 May

    intimatum, n. a final statement of demands or conditions made by a partner, spouse or other very close friend. 10 May

    enfact, v. to assert something untrue, illogical or dubious amidst a cloud of real facts. 11 May

    incurate, v. to allow a project to take a life of its own and proceed without acitve tending (from in + curate). 12 May

    matrimatrix, n. the biological substance out of which something is formed and by extension a nurturesome environment. 13 May

    verkle, v. to expel something from one’s throat, such as a hairball or piece of stuck food (from verklempt). 14 May

    nat, v. to begin to natter but catch yourself after the first natterance. 15 May

    fauxobey, v. to pretend to obey a rule or law you disagree with while actually ignoring or subverting it. 16 May

    myriaddled, adj. having a thousand things to do and not knowing where to begin. 17 May

    bafflefog, n. dense cloud of doublespeak, bureaucratese or other incomprehensible language (from Wilkins-O’Riley Zinn). 18 May

    whomligan, n. one who misuses the word “whom” where “who” is required grammatically. 19 May

    explosition, n. a bursting forth of words, without regard for the conventions of rhetoric or composition. 20 May

    deconcile, v. to mutually chill a once amicable relationship. 21 May

    wusta, auxiliary verb [woostuh] should have and would have if I had thought of it (“I wusta offered you a ride”). 22 May

    philantrophy n. the recognition one receives for a large donation to a building project. 23 May

    thecal, adj. of or relating to a master’s thesis. 24 May

    roly, adj. obsessive, proselytizing religiousity (shortening of “rolling holy”). 25 May

    happenstand, v. to be minding one’s own business when something happens in the immediate vicinity. 26 May

    envoguerate, v. to revive a flagging brand; also re-envougerate, meaning to rerebrand. 27 May

    commemory, n. a shared recalling of national or group significance, especially embodying sacrifice. 28 May

    lococo, adj referring to any contemporary low-brow art which mimics the look of the late Baroque period. 29 May

    tridecadedication, n, enduring comitment and dedication to a thirty-year endeavor or enterprise. 30 May

    smot, n. a pattern of mottling or a series of irregular spots on fabric or on one’s skin. May 31

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels will be released by Oxford University Press in March of 2020.
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