Dear Merriam -Webster
There are those who believe that dictionaries should not merely reflect the times but also protect English from the mindless assaults of the trendy. – Anonymous
The Merriam Webster’s dictionary announced recently the adoption of over 100 new words into their world famous lexicon of language. The adoption of new terms into the world famous anthology of English is no simple feat. In the past, scores of popular cultural slang have languished in literary purgatory awaiting proper recognition from Webster. A sampling of the potpourri of lucky winners includes:
Carbon footprint (1999): the negative impact that something (as a person or business) has on the environment; specifically: the amount of carbon emitted by something during a given period.
Waterboarding (2004): an interrogation technique in which water is forced into a detainee’s mouth and nose so as to induce the sensation of drowning.
Flash mob (1987): a group of people summoned (as by e-mail or text message) to a designated location at a specified time to perform an indicated action before dispersing.
Frenemy (1977): one who pretends to be a friend but is actually an enemy.
Goji (2003): the dark red mildly tart berry of a thorny chiefly Asian shrub (Lycium barbarum) that is typically dried and used in beverages.
Green-collar (1990): of, relating to, or involving actions for protecting the natural environment.
Sock puppet (1959): a false online identity used for deceptive purposes.
Locavore (2005): one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.
Over the years, I have habitually, and unsuccessfully, submitted words for consideration to lexicographers only to be snubbed by these sultans of syntax. My terms and phrases represent orphaned gaps in our day-to-day lives – situations that leave us speechless, groping – often for a word that has not yet been birthed but is needed to give wings to our articulation. Consider how our daily grammar could be enriched when leavened with these highly descriptive terms:
Renervate. (v). (rehn-er-vate) To repeatedly push an already illuminated/activated button such as a street crossing or elevator out of anxiety or impatience. Ex. The nervous little man got on to the lift, renervating the illuminated Lobby button as if somehow by doing so, he might force the carriage to go faster.
Freep,n. ( frep ) – an inorganic noise identical to the sound of human flatulence. In a social setting, a freep can be a source of embarrassment and while usually not acknowledged, it is often followed by the offending freeper’s deliberate efforts to reproduce the noise to reassure bystanders that the sound was not gastro intestinal. Ex. As Robert leaned back on the leather sofa, his seat emitted a distinct, high pitched freep. He discreetly shifted back and forth hoping to replicate the sound so all might not think he was dyspeptic. v – Freeping, freepulous, pl. -freepae
Strumble, n. ( struhm-bell) – an awkward, lunge forward, usually as a result of a misstep, where one tries to give onlookers the illusion that the gaffe was planned. As Patrick stared at the gaggle of girls, he tripped on a tree root – launching him into a ten foot long strumble followed by a light jog.
Brupp, ( bruhp )v. A sudden inhaled, breathless hesitation, normally occurring in mid sentence. Effecting mostly men, a speech delay caused by mild upper gastro intestinal distress. As his father was lecturing him at dinner, Ted’s dad brupped and then thankfully lost his train of thought.
Crizzle- n. ( kriz-zel ). – Petrified pet food, usually caked on the sides of dishes or on the floor adjacent to an area where an animal feeds. The crizzled bits of cat food stuck to the bowl and attracted large blue bottle flies. –adj. crizzled, crizzulous
Brunk, n. ( bruhnk ). The uninformed, stupid face teenagers make when they have no excuse. Alternative – oaf like, utterly without wit or forethought. When asked repeatedly what he was thinking when he took his father’s car for a joy ride, 15 year old Lance stared brunkishly at his parents and shrugged. adj – brunkish,
Sprinver, n. ( spen-vur )- The last cracked razor sharp shards of soap usually found in abandoned bathrooms and bachelor apartments. Lucius groped for the new bar of Dove soap only to find it purloined by his roommate. All that remained were useless, ancient sprinvers that would produce no lather.
Vasp- n. ( vassp). A mean vacuous person whose uses social status to malign, manipulate and manage others. She was quintessentially LA – an anorexic, cosmetically altered vasp – a veritable social XRAY. Adj – Vasp, vaspish, vaspishly
Supraculous, adj. ( soo-prak-you-luhs )- describing those who glance over a person’s shoulder in mid conversation to watch others entering a social gathering or meeting. It was clear from Sandra’s supraculous glances that Mike was merely a placeholder until someone more interesting came along.
Cherking, v.( cher-kin) – the deliberate act of resisting getting ready for church on a Sunday morning. To Mark, this was a clear case of cherking as he went upstairs to find out why the boys were not in the car.
Assceleration – n. ( as-sel-ahr-ate ), The action of a person speeding up in an adjacent lane to prevent you from changing into their lane. As Tina indicated her desire to change lanes, an adjacent BMW quickly asselerated, forcing her to swerve and curse out loud. n -asselerator
Disconsequentious, ( dis – con-see-kwen-chus ) adj. The look of hesitation a small child or dog gives you just before they deliberately ignoring your commands. The two year old child disconsequentiously glanced as his mother yelled, ” stop” just before putting the kitty litter into his mouth.
Fraculent – ( frak –el – unt ) adj. Foul smelling , normally associated with decay and/or body odor, a noxious miasma often encountered in gymnasiums, laundry baskets and children’s travel hockey and lacrosse bags. As she walked into the house with the groceries, a fraculent odor assaulted Caroline’s nose – causing her to gag and search the foyer for a dead animal.
Retroflagration – n. ( ret –roh-flah-gray-shun )The unnecessary feeling of guilt one gets as a result to some specific stimulus or trigger. John was struck with an odd flash of retroflagration as he watched the USC cheerleaders. He suddenly felt very old.
As I conclude my list of worthy descriptions, expressions and objects to Webster’s, my Microsoft Word Spellcheck keeps underlining them in an annoying serrated red line. Someday, perhaps, when grammar and Spellcheck become more contemporary, these words will not register red or even green. They will become normal brush strokes on the literary canvas of our daily lives.
It’s my belief that we need constant new shoots springing out of our tired, archaic palaver that help us refine the description of our daily circumstances and situations. Without new terminology, our lingua franca becomes fractured and depleted – a fraculent relic of a once beautifully perfumed form of communication.
Ugh, there’s that red line again!