Last month there was no trouble, er, problem. We inaugurated the R. Levey Neologism of the Month Award, and the hands-down best new word of October was Carol Cassell's "troublem"--a cross between "trouble" and "problem."
But let's be honest. "Troublem" was the hands-down winner because it was the only entry. This month, we have a true horse race among ten worthy contenders. But rather than try to pick a winner (I have enough troublem doing that at the real race track), I'm going to declare a ten-way dead heat. Here are the November New-ies: words that aren't in Webster, but ought to be.
"A Daily Reader" in Fulton, Md., suggests "humendous." I like it a lot better than the now-common "humongous" because humendous merges "huge," with "stupendous." Humongous merges nothing with nothing.
Wanda Franklin of Alexandria always answers the always-asked question, "How are you?" with "medinary." When the questioner says "Huh?" Wanda explains that she's feeling like a cross between "medium" and "ordinary." Clever.
Another anonymous correspondent has long been troubled by the hours between midnight and 4 a.m. Let's say we're talking about the first four hours of Sunday. It isn't really Sunday yet for most people, because they're still asleep. Yet it isn't Saturday any more, either. Solution: seven new words for those seven hunks of time. "Sumo" (a cross between Sunday and Monday) for the early hours of Monday, "Motu" for the early hours of Tuesday, and so on through "Tuwe" (rhymes with Dewey), "Weth," "Thfr" (rhymes with zephyr), "Frsa" (rhymes with versa) and "Sasu" (as in Zasu Pitts).
Kristin Gould reports that a relative of hers in New Hampshire, Taffy Case, coined a word years ago when she looked out the window and spied a gloomy New England day. She called it "grismal"--a cross between "grey" and "dismal."
E. Ries Myers of Baltimore says that if "antidepressant" and "antiperspirant" have arrived, why not "antiinflammatant"? It's a lot more natural and considerably shorter, he argues, than "antiinflammatory drug."
Russell Vermillion of Springfield credits Kathy Kozar, a fellow graduate of the University of Akron, with "administrivia." No, it doesn't refer to the obscure aspects of the Reagan presidency. It's a word Kathy used at a U. of A. reunion to describe the problems attached to a job she used to hold.
Since Emily Levey is nearly two years old, I'm particularly partial to neologisms from kids that age. Ruth Davis of Laurel submitted a beaut, from the days when her daughter was 2 1/2: "rainbrella." As Ruth observes, "I don't believe an explanation is necessary."
"Way back when I lived in Newport News, Virginia," writes Frances M. Hordes of Silver Spring, "my mother had a maid who . . . used a great word, combining 'prevent' and 'avoid.' She called it 'prevoid.' "
"When my son was little," writes Jean Arnold of Centreville, "he asked for some boxing gloves to work off his frustilities . . . . " After such a demonstration of linguistic virtuosity, reports Jean, "he got them."
And isn't this last one absolutely great? It's "bacronym," and it's the brainchild of Meredith G. Williams of Potomac.
A bacronym, says Meredith, is the "same as an acronym, except that the words were chosen to fit the letters." Some examples:
GEORGE--Georgetown Environmentalists Organized against Rats, Garbage and Emissions.
LIBRA, Inc.--Living In the Buff Recreation Associates (now that's a cause that would turn some heads).
And for a mouthful and a half, SURFSIDE--The Small Unified Reactor Facility with Systems for Isotopes, Desalting and Electricity.
But Meredith's last one was the showstopper. 'Twas a bacronym for ROBERT LEVEY.
A ROBERT LEVEY, he says, is a Reporter Of Brilliant Elegance, Renowned Talent and Limitless Energy, and a Vendor of Exceptional Yarns.
All I can say in return, Meredith, is that you're a Man of Erudition, Richness, Education, Dimension, Intellect, Talent--and Hoots.
Got a neologism? Mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.