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One Writer's Ravings:
A Logophile's Blog
for Language Lovers

Confessions of a Nymwit

I love when people ask me to coin a word for them because I love to make up words. The satisfaction of fashioning something that aptly fills a gaping hole in the language is akin, I imagine, to what a sculptor feels creating harmonious form out of earth or stone. And, unlike nearly all nonverbal artistic creations, a well-made word can elicit a chuckle or even, if it's especially clever, a guffaw.

Here are some of my neologisms (nee-AHL-uh-jiz-umz) — words I've minted over the years. I hope you enjoy them, and I invite you to share with me your own creations.

nymwit (NIM-wit)
someone who is always trying to make up clever words; also, someone who continually makes up silly nicknames for people [from the Greek onoma, word, name, the source of the combining form -(o)nym, as in synonym].

eyeliterate (eye-LIT-ur-it)
given to pronouncing words as they are spelled, by guesswork, without bothering to check the pronunciation in a dictionary. For example, saying "chick" for chic or pronouncing extraordinary in six syllables instead of five. An orthoepist (pronunciation expert) might say that a person afflicted with this malady is in diacritical condition.

dumbelletrist (DUHM-bel-LET-trist)
an eyeliterate person. The word may also denote an obtuse, pedantic writer or critic.

offsprung (AWF-spruhng)
your grownup child or grownup children. (I won top honors in Barbara Wallraff's "Word Fugitives" column in The Atlantic Monthly for coining this one.)

offcling (AWF-kling)
a grownup child who remains at home, refusing to leave the nest. The word may also be a collective noun denoting grownup children who live with their parents.

superextraparentalocally (SOO-pur-EKS-truh-puh-REN-tuh-LOH-kuh-lee)
as far away from one’s parents as possible [a play on matrilocal and patrilocal]: Most college graduates want to live superextraparentalocally, but many can't afford to.

breederphobia (BREE-dur-FOH-bee-uh)
hatred of, or aversion to, those members of society who are parents, especially parents of young children; hence, hatred of families. breederphobe, noun; breederphobic, adjective.

cacospectamania (KAK-oh-SPEK-tuh-MAY-nee-uh)
a compulsion to look at something repugnant [from the Greek kakos, bad, Latin spectare, to look at, and -mania, compulsion].

joviomelancholy (JOH-vee-oh-MEL-in-KAH-lee)
wearing a happy face to mask the gloom within.

chudduck (CHUH-duhk)
the sound of a car running over a pothole.

nogonition (NOH-goh-NISH-in)
the sound of someone trying to start a recacitrant engine.

slimelight (rhymes with limelight)
bad publicity.

intalksication (in-TAWK-suh-KAY-shin)
a sluggish, stuporous condition brought on by listening to talk radio, in which one is unable to think clearly, make reasonable judgments, or safely drive a car.

cosmononplussation (KAHZ-moh-nahn-pluh-SAY-shin)
the vague, speechless awe one experiences upon gazing up into the cosmos and contemplating the pathetic minuteness of one's being [from cosmos and the rare word nonplussation, the state of being nonplussed].

quonk (rhymes with honk)
as a spectator of an event: to make a noise that interrupts a participant’s concentration [back formation from quonking, noise from the sidelines that interrupts an athlete's or performer's concentration]: They quonked opposing batters mercilessly with catcalls and Bronx cheers.

orthopolitiphobia (OR-thoh-puh-LIT-uh-FOH-bee-uh)
fear of political correctness [from Greek ortho-, right, correct, political, and phobia].

insignificant other
someone with whom you have a short-term or an on-and-off love affair; a person you get involved with “on the rebound” or with whom you have casual, uncommitted, or indifferent sexual relations.

significant udder
a person you “milk” for the transitory relief of intimate companionship, but with whom you are not interested in having a serious relationship.

filiolagnia (FIL-ee-uh-LAG-nee-uh)
a mother’s incestuous desire for her son. (There are words for incestuous interest in a mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, niece, and nephew, but not for a son.)

congrehooligation (KAHNG-gruh-HOO-li-GAY-shin)
an assembly of hooligans, ne’er-do-wells, and other unsavory characters [infix blend of congregation and hooligan].

pananxiety (PAN-ang-ZY-uh-tee)
mass anxiety or hysteria [blend of Greek pan, all, panic, and anxiety].

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