A Word on New Words

It is always fun to see language grow. (No, I don’t mean menu language.)

One of my favorite rising words is “kindergarchy,” described here by Joseph Epstein as “rule by children,” a condition whereby “children have gone from background to foreground figures in domestic life, with more and more attention centered on them, their upbringing, their small accomplishments, their right relationship with parents and grandparents.”

Epstein is not a fan of kindergarchy: he calls it “dreary, boring, sadly misguided.”

A site called Word Spy cites Epstein as the first person to use the word, but this brief Time magazine obituary of Sam Levenson shows that it’s been around for several decades.

The other night at a party, a conversation arose that required a word that didn’t seem to exist. Taking part in this conversation were several people who had each been the last person to date another person before that other person took up with his/her eventual spouse. Surely there is a word for this? We couldn’t think of one, so after some trial (and plenty of error), we made one up: “penultamour.”

According to Mr. Google, this word has never been uttered by humankind. It remained open to debate whether a penultamour should feel pride or shame at having served that role.

What do you think: does this word work? Suggested improvements? And, far more worthwhile, what new words have you invented that need to be introduced to the world?


Also late: I love rememblucinate, as I do it quite frequently, under or off the influence.

What bothers me about the Enligsh language is that there is no official (i.e. in-dictionaries) adjective counterpart of "solidarity."

I have seen "solidarious" used, but it doesn't seem to be accepted in the mainstream. Any clues on why?


I'm fairly certain that my older brother Dallin invented the word "Rememblucinate" circa 1986, to describe my younger sister's insistence that the Camaro our father once owned was brown, when it was in fact cream-colored. She had "rememblucinated" the color of the car.

While in the case of a 5-year-old child it didn't involve mind-altering chemicals, it could certainly more appropriately describe the hazy recollections of a particularly party-filled night out...

David H.

I'm a couple of days late, but why mix Latin and French? That's sometimes justifiable, but not here, where the all-Latin, and wholly comprehensible, penultamor is available. (And penultamor is clearly better than the possible all-French alternatives, since penultieme and amour don't combine well -- maybe penultiamour?)

cousin lymon

chillatio- to perform relaxing

drunkle- the ubiquitous drunk uncle

dewbiquitous- Mountain Dew is everywhere!


Maybe there already is a word for the concept of penaltamour or any of the other suggestions. Just take look at "The Meaning of Liff" by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd. It's a dictionary of things that there aren't any words for yet.


varden for vegetable garden
flarden for flower garden


I've taken up cycling in the last few years and came to the conclusion that 'undulations' didn't quite capture the essence of some rides - so 'updulations'. 'downdulations' on the other hand seem to be entirely theoretical.

Perhaps I got there first, perhaps not.


#4, regarding "seriouso", in Swedish we actually already have well-established words for that type of relationship: Sambo (if you live together) or Särbo (if you don't)

Cathy C.

Cactupus, n: A normally shaven region that has been neglected.


I have created a word but, unfortunately, have not found anything worthy to apply it to. The word is "Ragavod". (Dont worry if you can't pronounce it... the word is not intended to be spoken with an English accent.) So, i tried naming a chocolate pasta sauce that I created "ragavod but I didn't think it fit. I also tried convincing my mom to name my sister Ragavod...that didn't happen. So, now I am 22 and have still not managed to name anything Ragavod. If any of you find something fitting to name Ragavod, please do. :D

Clifford W. Dunbar

I've invented "furpunk", analogous to cyberpunk and steampunk, to describe speculative fiction (ie science fiction or fantasy) where at least one nonhuman animal is a major character. The animal character(s) behave the way real animals would under similar circumstances. The attitudes, motivations, and thought processes of the animal are unique to its own species. The term "furpunk" does not extend to anthropomorphic depictions of animals.


#36: love "wiitard" doesn't look right, but said outloud, it explains everything.


hello... Rich Hall? Sniglets? Mr. Dubner, you don't look young or old enough to pretend you've never heard of him/them.


This may be to simplistic, but how about "spouse-maker" as in "she was the spouse-maker"


I occasionally tell gullible people at parties that I specialize in a very narrow branch of theology called episcopaleontology.


#41, are you saying you believe Google is female, as this post suggests?


A number of years ago some friends made up a term for the experience you have when you're walking down the street, see someone you know, then look ahead pretending you don't see that person. Or when you see someone you know, try to catch their eye, but realize that they're purposefully looking ahead pretending that they don't see you. We called it "raindeering," although I can't remember why.

It's come in quite handy over the years: "I saw that loser Steve today, but I raindeered him so I didn't have to waste time talking to him."

Or sometimes more demoralizing: "I saw that loser Steve, and I tried to raindeer him, but then I noticed that he was trying to raindeer me! How dare he - if either one of us should be doing the raindeering, it should be me!"


I went to a liberal arts college with many hippy-wanna-bes. One of my favorite terms was "trustafarian" referring to kids who could play hippy with their parents' money. Usually IDed by a dancing bear sticker on their expensive car. I don't think any of my school-mates can claim to have originated the term. We did, however, create the term YUG, which stood for Young, Upwardly-Granola, referring to type As that took on their pseudohippiness as they would an investment banking internship (and then likely became investment bankers...not that there is anything wrong with that).

By the way, LOVE episcopaleontolgist. Excellent. This is my favorite discussion here EVER.


Won't work - see Stephen Pinker's The stuff of thought for why.

My made up word was Tonsilrectumy - the removal of tonsils through the other end. I think we now have the technology to do it. I coined it when one of my employees was refusing to go get her toncils removed per doctors orders...I told her if this kept going on they'd have to take them out the hard way. The best usage is for someone doing something in a manner that is much more difficult than it needs to be.


sarahmas (#27)

I too coined almost the exact same word a few years ago: "ambisextuous", meaning relating to either gender. I.e. "Jamie and Alex are examples of ambisextuous names."