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Jim's 'Geramour' Wins Neologism Honors

by Bob Levey

He is 18 years short of being 52, and he is a far cry from being female. Yet Jim Doss, of Northwest Washington, stands in the winner' s circle today because he can identify with the Term Trouble that some 52-year-old women have.

Like about 3,000 fellow fans of our monthly make-up-a-word contest, Jim took a swing at our June challenge. His coinage ran away with first prize.

The challenge that Jim and his fellow neologists faced was:

You are a 52-year-old single woman who has an affectionate relationship with a 52-year-old single man. But what do you call him? He's not really your boyfriend, because he's not a boy. He's not really your date, because you're way past dating. You refuse to call him your significant other, because you've always hated that phrase. So he's your...

Jim's winning entry:


That's a lovely melding of "geriatric" and "paramour," I thought. In fact, I'd call it one of the best winning entries I've ever received.

Neftali Cajina submitted "Gerimor," a mixture of "geriatric" and "amor." I gave that a close-but-no-cigar, since "paramour" is more precisely what we were looking for than just-plain love. Better luck next time, Neftali.

Our winner is a wordsmith through and through. Although he works as a billing analyst in the information technology world, he holds a graduate degree in writing from DePaul University, and he spent several years as a reporter on the banking industry in Chicago.

Jim is the first journalist (past or present) to win this contest in many moons. Yet Jim proved an old saw – scribes know how to eat, and where to eat. We did Jim's victory lunch at Kinkead's in Foggy Bottom. He feasted on salad, salmon, red wine and creme brulee – appropriately festive.

Jim's wife, Patricia Trimnell Doss, is a writer, too. She teaches at the Writing Center at Trinity College in Northeast Washington. And she figured Jim had an extraterrestrial force behind his victory.

As we sat down to lunch, Patricia announced that she had just checked Jim's horoscope in that day's Post. It read:

"Look behind scenes, stop and ask, 'What do you want?' Turns out to be some sort of contest."

And some kind of contestant. Well done!

Almosts and Nearlies for June were:

Comradearie: Roberta Day, of Falls Church.

Sweetmate: Elizabeth Schwartz, of Laurel.

Old Cootrement: Betty Glick, of Reston.

Octobeau: Marianne Patterson, of Takoma Park.

Manopause: Carolyn Gibson, of Southeast Washington, then 14 others.

PAARPner: Arlene S. Posner.

Priority Male: Martha Graham Bailey, of Severna Park, Md.

Main Geeze: David C. Viar, of Great Falls and Bryan Fortson, of Keflavik Naval Station, Iceland, then 24 fellow word-maker-uppers a bit later.

Quinquapanion: Myra Harrison and (with a slightly different form) Ruth Berman.

Baldfriend: Clarence M. Johnson, of Beltsville.

Social Hecurity: Steve Hinton.

Swaintique: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

AARP-throb: Former champs Zane Schauer, of Annapolis, and Marlene B. Cohen, of Columbia.

Inamoroldo: Former champ Everett Rice, of Columbia.

Dinosamor: Hank Wallace, of Northwest Washington.

Slowthario: Tom Witte again.

Stalebait: Joseph Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa.

Stalemate: Karen Floyd and Pamela Humphries.

Fifty Hommething: Kate Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa.

Significant Older: Manny Guzman, of Arlington.

AARPendage: Former champ Karen E. Holt, of Charlottesville.

Graymate: Hugh Ferry, of Clearwater, Fla.

52-Pickup: Silvia Stewart, then 24 others just the same.

Senior Momento: Karen Tomimatsu.

LII-aison (brush up on your Roman numerals if you don't get this): Robin Tiffen, of Leeton, Australia.

Main Sqwheeze: Sandy Frank.

And Olemate: Sujatha Panavally.

No 52-year-old ever needs to hunt for a phrase again. Nice job, contestants. Let's see if you can settle another question of love and relationships. This is the July challenge:

The new spouse of your former spouse is your... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is the same as ever, regardless of marital status: A free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sensibly near Washington.

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 by 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 July contest must be received by July 31.

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

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