My 9-year-old daughter hunkers down for hours with the Warriors books. She’s on her fifth run through the dozens of tomes in this series that our local libraries keep handy about clans of cats who want nothing to do with people. Poring over them does wonders for my daughter’s vocabulary, but I could do without the occasional hissing and other feline habits she’s acquired.
Meanwhile, my 8-year-old son is hooked on Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants graphic novels. Those books chronicle the adventures of two potty-talking boys, often joined by their trance-prone principal cavorting around in a cape and skivvies. Somehow, he’s reading above grade level anyway.
Becoming avid readers made my bookworms interested in the mechanics of language. The other day, we talked about neologisms — words that don’t yet exist but ought to, since they’re instantly clear.
It began when my daughter accidentally coined “enstrict.” I explained that while it’s not a word, the term has great potential. Enstrict would save syllables for folks who get fed up with discipline-obsessed teachers and other instructors. The derivative words, including “enstriction” and “enstrictor,” could come in handy too.
There’s no better time to embrace new words than the start of a New Year. So as a public service, I’ve come up with some neologisms that could come in handy in 2016:
For starters, how about “trumpalist”? As in: “This candidate’s trumpalist tendencies scare me.” Pundits could use this word to economize on hot air when they discuss pompous, cruel, and self-centered politicians, even after Donald Trump’s White House bid fizzles. No matter what the polls say, I still say his candidacy is doomed.
As Trump put it recently, after converting a vulgar Yiddish noun into a verb and applying it to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 performance, he’s going to get “schlonged.”
“Trailrazer” would also enrich our political vocabulary. Trailrazing is what happens after trumpalist bids ultimately collapse. It’s the opposite of having political coattails. Toxic candidates dim the chances of other members of their party winning races in the same electoral cycle.
Thanks to trumpalist politicos and their trailrazing ways, legions of political junkies and journalists will be incapable of unplugging from now until long after Election Day. They’ll need “vacational” training to learn how to untether their mind and body from electronic devices and the news cycle.
Since I often write about the financial woes of fossil fuel companies, here’s a new word for that: “debtidend.” This neologism will prove useful should oil prices sink lower in 2016, especially if they graze $20 a barrel. As unprofitable oil and gas companies keep paying investors more in debtidends than they can sustain, they’ll risk insolvency. Here’s looking at you, Chevron.
Maybe some of these there-oughta-be-a-word words have occurred to you before, too. If so, use them liberally. They deserve the exposure.
Should The Donald or his bromantic partner Ted Cruz nab the presidency in 2016, millions of stunned Americans will need loads of new words to express how we feel about trumpalist trailrazers. But if that happens, don’t count on me for more neologisms. I’d be busy getting some vacational training or moving with my family to Canada.
Columnist Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies.