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Style Conversational Week 1491: Bring a plus-one

The Empress of the Style Invitational on this week’s neologism contest and ‘grandfoal’ results

Bob Staake's alternative sketch for the Week 1491 add-a-letter contest, with his own idea: DOMINOSE, what plastic surgeons play to pass the time between procedures. (_)

Looking at Bob Staake’s sketch above — I chose his other alternative for this week’s contest example — I do think it would have made a funny cartoon, funnier in fact than the one that ran this week. I decided against it not because of the picture, but because I thought Bob’s neologism itself wasn’t a good example for the contest: First of all, Merriam-Webster’s primary spelling for the plural of “domino” is “dominoes”; “dominos” is listed as a less common spelling. So “dominose” could well be read as transposing the S and E at the end, rather than adding an E. Also, I tend to prefer neologisms that have some relation to the real world, rather than being concepts that wouldn’t exist except to supply a word to this contest. The visual of the line of noses is hilarious, but as just a written definition, not as much. But the spelling — when that’s the focus of the contest — pretty much doomed it as a choice.

Bob, by the way, offers all his Invite pencil sketches and pen-and-ink work available for sale to the Loser Community at If you have a favorite picture from the past and need to know the date it ran, etc., write to me and I’ll try to help.

Your add here: The Week 1491 neologism contest

It’s our stock in trade, really: the 1.2 gajillion times we’ve asked you to slightly alter a word/name/phrase and make a new one; it’s just a matter of limiting the pool in some way. This time that’s (A) adding one letter, rather than dropping the letter, substituting a letter with another one, etc.; plus (B) limiting the original words to ones that start with A through E. (Note that the letter you ADD can be any letter, not just A-E) and that your neologism doesn’t have to start with A-E; you can start the word with your added letter.) On the other hand, we’re also throwing in a little (and I expect it to be little) expander: You can take that single letter and add it multiple times to make your new term.

I’m saying “that single letter” to stress that adding one letter in two places is not the same as adding two different letters. I say this only because a dear man whose name is not Blob Stuck didn’t notice this requirement when coming up with some possible contest examples.

The best way to see if a certain neologism has already been used in the Invitational is to take a look at the All Invitational Text file, which currently ends at Week 1476 (its compiler, Loser Elden Carnahan, is still dealing with some health things) but should be enough for now. Just search for the word you’re thinking of using.

A word about the formatting: Usually in a neologism contest, I don’t tell the reader what your original word was; I just show the altered one. And so that relationship needs to be clear to the reader or else the humor dies. But in our recent contest to switch the positions of two letters, I asked you to show me the original, and ended up including it in about half the results (including Frank Osen’s winner, which switched “today” to “toady,” then described it as what’s on House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy’s daily calendar). So if you think your entry works better with the original given first — that it would be hard to get on its own, yet quoting the original doesn’t step on the humor — go ahead. I’ll decide whether to use it.

And since I’d like to sort the entries alphabetically, please don’t hit the Enter key within an individual entry; if you do that, the two halves will scatter into different areas of my list and it will be mighty hard to enjoy them.

For Ye Olde Guidance and Inspiration, here are some letter-added neologisms from earlier contests whose original word begins with A-E, in addition to the ones atop this week’s contest.

Alexpandria: A town known for its buffet restaurants. (Tom Witte)

Apocalypstic: The little smudge I came home with on my collar that makes my wife act like it’s the end of the world. (Brendan Beary)

Defenestraction: A ruse to divert the cop’s attention while you throw the evidence out the window. (Seth Brown)

Amoebra: An undergarment that lifts and separates and separates and separates. (Eric Murphy)

Dyspeepsia: The result of eating too much Easter candy. (Marian Phelps)

Capital Gone: What used to be in your wallet? (Jerome Uher)

Jockeylarity:* The ‘grandfoals’ of Week 1487

*Earlier inking headline by Jon Gearhart

Combining two fictional names rather than those of real horses, and almost requiring you to ignore some elements of the puns they include, The Style Invitational’s “grandfoal” contests not quite as sublime as the primary wordplay challenge each year to “breed” two Triple Crown nominees and name the foal. Still, this spinoff contest still brings out the punsters — this year, in Week 1487, to the tune of some 2,200 entries (plus another 250 for the headline and honorable-mention subhead suggestions). And almost a tenth of those entries made my initial list of inkworthies, which I finally pared down to the 67 grandfoals in this week’s results. (Your clearly superior grandfoals didn’t get ink? Hold on to your horses, then, for the second-chance contest in December.) Since I don’t see entrants’ names when I’m judging, I wouldn’t know unless I went back and researched, but I’m pretty sure that there are few brand-new Losers entering the grandfoal contest; the submissions tend to be more on target than are many in the first round. The only part of the judging that’s no fun is to say, “Okay, this is absolutely the last one I can include” — and there are all these clever entries I have to ignore.

Today’s Clowning Achievement winner, Laurie Brink, began entering the Invitational a good 15 years ago, after her friend Seth Brown, who was making a big splash in the Invite, told her about it. And ba-ding, her first ink was a runner-up in the 2007 foal contest: Warn x Gentle Romeo = She’s Not Dead! Since then, Laurie has racked up a variety of ink, but the horses are her specialty: Laurie has scored ink in twenty-eight Invite horse name contests, often several blots at a time: In the Week 1405 grandfoal contest, she got seven. And this year’s foal contest earned her four: Vladimirror, Mona Visa, Re:Re:Re:Re:Re:Re: and Sweeney Toad were all hers. And it was a grandfoal who brought Laurie her previous win: Round Yon Virgin x Free Brrr = Madonna & Chilled, from Week 1020 in 2013. Today’s Clowner winner, Atom and Heave x Pig Penn = Hurls Before Swine, will be surely getting a little extra hay in Laurie’s ink-stable.

Soon after catching the horse-contest bug, Laurie recruited her father, Bernard, to enter as well; he’s been getting regular ink through the years, too — and has a blot today: Dead Gunfighter x Heir Jordans = Billy the GOAT. And last year Laurie showed us another talent: She made a video of herself singing “Rudy’s Crazy,” a hilarious parody of “Sherry Baby.” I hope she’ll send something in for our current song contest, Week 1490 (deadline June 13).

On the other hand, it’s the first horse-name ink for Pam Shermeyer, but this rookie has been inking up the joint since she debuted in December. Pam gets the cuddle-toy Flesh-Eating Bacteria for Catch Some Z’s x I the People = Nap Bonaparte. Andrew Hatziyannis gets his first “above the fold” ink, his sixth in all, for Finals Are Today x Catch Some Z’s = Got Some F’s, and our latest Loser of the Year, Frank Mann, continues past the 200-ink mark with No-Knock Warrant x Lake Flaccid = DEA’d in the Water. (Frank’s co-workers at the Drug Enforcement Administration should like that one.)

Too many people had the same idea with several puns, often with different pairings: A half dozen people submitted CloningAchievement x The Wee Peephole = Twin Peeks. Other too-manys: Abe Blinkin’ x I the People = Eye the People; Sharp Dresser x Vladimirror = Putin on the Ritz (in fact, I’ve gotten too-manys for Putin on the Ritz in several contests); Lava First Sight x Not a B There = Magma Cum Laude; Trad _ _ ark x Missing Everything = _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _; Lake Flaccid x Via Gra = Lake Erect, Lake Turgid, Lake Superior, etc.

Knowing that I’d be swimming in clever entries, I didn’t spend much time puzzling out ones that I didn’t get. Including: Wait, Mr. Lincoln! x The Very Model! = Model #1-4-D Road!; Zulu Zulu Top x Dead Gunfighter = QuickerNguniOnDraw; and Trad _ _ ark x Smear Is Tomorrow = Noah Q Appearance. Other people included helpful explainers — helpful in their explaining, not helpful in the humor department: Decoder Ring x ShavingPrivateRyan = GNPastVNavyHairier (anagram of “foal” #2) and, my fave in this category: “AlexanderTheGrape x Snippitydoodah = SangAmidDaVinciOp (reference: Da Vinci remote surgical precision system first demonstrated on a grape’s skin, creating meme 2018).” AHA!!

What Doug Dug: Ace Copy Editor Doug Norwood seconded my choices for the top four winners, and also called these out from the honorable mentions: CloningAchievement x All Over the Road = One to Many (Dave Matuskey), one that takes a second or two to process entirely; IV League x Fat Man = Prince Ton (Ward Foeller); G Whiz x Missing Everything = G Wizards (a dig at D.C.'s mediocre NBA team by Jesse Rifkin); Resting Rich Face x LiedAboutThatToo = Resting Mitch Face (Stephen Dudzik); and LiedAboutThatToo x Catch Some Z’s = Bull Dozer (Jeff Contompasis).

Horse of a blue color: Some unprintables: I figured that anyone who’d read 67 of these entries wouldn’t feel put out to see, at the bottom of the list, Mr Red x All Over the Road = Skid Marx (Barbara Turner) and Erupt to No Good x Lake Flaccid = Erupt to No Wood (Leif Picoult). But I didn’t think it was a good idea to run any of these:

MoltenJoeDiMaggio x Whackatoa = New York Yankers (Jeff Shirley)

The Wee Peephole x Decoder Ring = Inspect Her Gadget (John Hutchins)

Via Gra x Wine and Jeez = Hardonnay (Jeff Shirley, again)

Hair on a G String x Veto Corleone (or Give It Arrest) = Pubic Enemy #1 (several people)

Die Happy x Whackatoa = Die Fappy (Jeff Shirley, AGAIN) Oh, Jeff.