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First Try, and He's a Neologism Champ

by Bob Levey

"I've never actually missed my stop, but I've come awfully close," said Michael Raibman. So he identified sufficiently with the situation to walk away with first place in our January neologism contest.

Michael was one of about 3,000 make-up-a-word enthusiasts to take a swing at our monthly wordsmithing battle. The challenge was:

You are reading Bob Levey's Washington on the subway. The column is so captivating, so brilliant, so richly written, that you keep on reading and reading – and you miss your stop. When you realize it, the spark of recognition is called...

Michael's winning answer:


I thought it was a clever twist on "realization," the operative word when you look out the window of the subway and see your stop slipping away into the darkness. The fact that my surname was buried about midway through Michael's coinage had absolutely nothing to do with his coronation, of course.

Michael is a lawyer with the venerable downtown Washington firm of Arnold & Porter. A native of northern New Jersey, Michael made stops in Missouri (college), Pennsylvania (law school and first clerkship) and Alaska (second clerkship) before washing up on shore here about 14 months ago. He lives in Northwest Washington. His legal specialties are general litigation and food and drug law.

Michael's victory came on his first try at this contest, and it required a bit of transit transference. He rides the bus to work, not the subway.

Still, he admits that he's a regular visitor to Comics Page Number One, and to the column that you're reading right this minute. I've always said that Bob Levey's Washington can make you smarter. Once a month, it makes a contest winner a bit larger around the waist, too.

Michael's victory lunch will not send him to a health club in a paroxysm of guilt. He dined like a careful soul – half a pear, a couple of slabs of swordfish and a wonderful assortment of creme brulee, at Kinkead's in Foggy Bottom. He pronounced the feed excellent. Same word I used for his entry.

As I told Michael, he's eligible to enter again and win again. I suspect he will do both. A worthy winner.

Almosts and Nearlies for the January contest were:

DiscumBobulation: Former champ Everett Rice, of Columbia, and (with similar forms) Philip John, of Arlington, former champ Jayne Townend and Robin McHugh Brown.

Disbelevey: Edith and Alan Stein, of Silver Spring.

Metropiphany: Sam Mecum, of Lancaster, Pa.

Levastation: Al Toner, of Arlington, and (with a similar form) George Justice.

Prebobcupation: Nick Flokos, of McLean.

Mistifistation: Marc Langhammer, of Northwest Washington.

unB.Leveybell: Sally Stokes and (with a similar form) Kevin Sudy.

Railization: Rich Koffman and (with a similar form) Tom Tavino, of Leesburg.

A-Bob-ination: Former champ Janet Gritz, of Silver Spring.

Denewsment: Former champ Ruth Ruskin.

Levelation: Linda Rodgers, of Germantown.

Transitmental LeveyStation: Alan Duxbury.

APostplexy: Vandana Madhavan, of Charlottesville.

deLeveyrance: Dian McDonald, of Alexandria.

Farragutfulness: Phil Frankenfeld, of Northwest Washington.

Metruh-o: Suzanne N. Weaver.

Deleveyrants: Michael Gips, of Bethesda.

Amnewsia: Alfredo Caputo, of Rockville.

Bingbongnizance: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

Abrupt Levey-taking: Jean Stewart, of Northwest Washington.

Consternstation: Wendy Jordan.

And Stopidity: Darla Sova.

Very nice work, you cogitators.

Let's see if February produces more of the same. Here's the Shortest Month Challenge:

They are ugly, black and plentiful – those scrape marks left on pillars in underground parking garages by drivers who aren't quite as deft at maneuvering a car as they might think. The scrape marks are called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is anything but ugly. It's a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sanely near Washington. If you drive to our rendezvous, the scrapes you leave on parking-lot pillars are between you and your driving instructor.

Contest rules: You may enter as often as you like, on one piece of paper or several. Joint entries are welcome. So are entries submitted by fax (202-334-5150) or e-mail ( Entries must bear day and evening phone numbers, including area code(s). All entries become my property. Entries will not be accepted by phone or returned. In case of duplicate winning entries, I'll choose the one I receive first.

Please mail entries to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071. Entries for the February contest must be received by Feb. 29.

© 2000 Bob Levey (
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

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