Today we commemorate the 1,000th time that The Washington Post’s illustrious masthead has been besmirched by The Style Invitational, its weekly repository for clever, pointed, sophisticated, irreverent, off-color and occasionally juvenile humor and wordplay — sometimes all of those in a single joke — from more than 4,500 devoted readers to date, some of whom have been entering the contest since Week 1 in 1993, sending entries first by mail, then by fax, then digitally (occasionally the third digit has come into play), to the Czar through 2003 and to the Empress since.
Worldwide, the Invitational’s name is best associated with what we’ve come to call Our Greatest Hit: a neologism contest to change a word by a single letter and define the result. Though we’ve repeated this contest several times over our almost 20 years of existence, it’s a list of results from back in 1998 that continues to be shared the most on the Internet, sometimes with the hyper-inaccurate name of “Mensa Invitational” and usually including words that weren’t Invite entries, but lame additions stuck onto it like deer ticks along its endless tour through cyberspace.
The Style Invitational
The Style Invitational is The Post’s weekly humor/wordplay contest, serving up since 1993 an irreverent mix of highbrow and lowbrow -- haughty and potty -- in genres ranging from neologisms to cartoon captions to elaborate song parodies. A new contest appears at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational every Friday.
So let’s saddle up our most trusty of warhorses one more time: This week: Choose any word, name or two-word term beginning anywhere from T through Z; then add one letter, drop one letter, substitute one letter for another, or transpose two adjacent letters, and define the result. Remember that it’s the original word, not your neologism, that has to begin with T through Z.
Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives the fine volume “Stuck Up!: 100 Objects Inserted and Ingested in Places They Shouldn’t Be,” donated by Jeff Contompasis.
Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders receive a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to
or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Dec. 17; results published Jan. 6 (online Jan. 3). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 1000” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at wapo.st/inviterules. The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Tom Witte, whose first Invite ink was in Week 7; he now has more than 1,200 blots. The alternative headline in the “Next week’s results” line is by Jeff Contompasis. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at
Report from Week 996
in which we asked you to combine two magazines and describe the results, or name a story that might be included: Some combinations that were funny on their own without descriptions: Martha Stewart Living + American Jail = Better Homes & Pardons (Richard Wong, Derwood, Md.); Road & Track + Gourmet = Autobahn Appetit; plus Horse & Rider + Playboy = Undressage (Kathy El-Assal, Middleton, Wis.); and Mad + GQ = Goofus & Gallant (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.).