Search the Site

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?