Washington Post Word Play

Following on from yesterday’s blog about my family’s Christmas Day traditions and the reading-derived brainpower they entail, it’s quite fitting that the below word plays turned up in my inbox this morning.

They’re from the Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational*. You know, the Washington Post newspaper and Mensa, as in a reference to the organisation for pompous smart people that you wave away with disdain but that you secretly wish you were smart enough to join.

The premise was that readers were invited to choose any word from the dictionary and add or subtract a letter or two or few to create a new word with a new meaning.

I could wax lyrical about all of them and tell you which ones made me laugh out loud, but I think it’s more fun for you to just read them. My aim is to incorporate my favourites into my everyday usage for 2011.

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realise it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid..

7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido: All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a  spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in themorning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor (n.): The colour you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

Merry books-, reading-, and word play-filled Christmas!

*Actually, I write slightly corrected. They’re from the Washington Post’s Style Invitational (Thanks Pat).

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.

One thought on “Washington Post Word Play”

  1. Actually, there isn’t any “Mensa Invitational,” but The Washington Post does have a wonderfully clever humor contest called The Style Invitational. And two Invitational contests from 1998 are the sources of many of the neologisms in the list above. (But not all: For example, “decafalon” isn’t a one-letter change from “decathlon,” is it? Or “caterpallor”?)

    Much better to see the the current Invitational — every week at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational. We’ve had more than 600 contests since the ones above! The Style Invitational is published every Saturday in The Post’s Style (features) section, and every Friday afternoon at about 3:30 Eastern (US) time. There are neologism contests regularly, and lots of other sources of humor as well.

    For example, we asked readers recently to coin a new word or term that was a palindrome (it’s spelled the same backward and forward). Here are some of the top winners (results printed Oct. 16):

    AHA HAHA: When you finally get the joke. (Tom Flaherty, Culpeper, Va.)

    EGADAGE: “Heck,” “darn,” etc. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn)

    NAMETAG-GATEMAN: The conference organizer who won’t let you enter until you’ve ruined your jacket with adhesive paper. (Dion Black, Washington)

    AMENEMA: Blessed relief. (Anne Morgan, Fairfax, a First Offender)

    DROWSYSWORD: Impotence. (Roy Ashley, Washington)

    See the rest of the winners and learn how to enter the current contest at washingtonpost.com/styleinvitational. Or you can become a fan of “Washington Post Style” on Facebook (go to facebook.com/wapostyle ) and you’ll get a link to the Invitational when it’s posted. I hope you become a regular reader and maybe even a regular entrant.

    Best, The Empress of The Style Invitational

    The Washington Post

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