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First Nuptials, Then Neologistic Victory

by Bob Levey

She was Brenda Lucas when her brainstorm seized her, and Brenda Holley by the time I called her to pass on the good news. Evidently, being a newlywed brings you good fortune in the world of neologisms, too.

That's what I figured, anyway, after I had waded through 3,000 submissions to my monthly make-up-a-word contest. Brenda's stood out.

The challenge that she and the other wordsmiths faced was:

President Clinton's wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, is running for a U.S. Senate seat in New York. If she wins, her husband will become her...

Brenda's winning entry:


That neatly welds the notion of "has-been" to the notion of "husband." It also suggests the bitter truth for the president – that he may be a has-been as Hillary Rodham Clinton's husband at about the same time he becomes a has-been as president.

Recent champ Joe Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa., filed the same entry, but a day later than Brenda. The same day that Joe's entry arrived, Mabra Barge, of Silver Spring, submitted Husbeen. Several days after that, Tim Kral, of Waldorf, sent in The First Hasbeend.

Very close, you three. Please try again.

Our winner says her neologism just hopped up and hit her as she was reading my column in the Metro.

"I thought, 'Poor Bill, what's he got to look forward to?' and then it just came," said Brenda, as we downed a victory lunch at Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe near Dupont Circle.

Brenda was born and bred in Annapolis. She lived in Montana and Arizona as a young woman before returning to the Washington area in the early 1980s. She works as a legal secretary for a downtown firm and as an artist (portraits, watercolors and cartoons) on the side.

Her new husband, Jim Holley, is an optometrist in Washington. Their honeymoon took them to Adamstown, Pa., and Annapolis. When they got back home to their condo in Silver Spring, there was Levey's voice on the message machine, announcing the good news. When it rains... Congratulations to an extremely worthy winner.

Almosts and Nearlies for September were:

Significophant Other: Clarence M. Johnson, of Beltsville.

Slicknificant Other: Don Gatling, of Gaithersburg.

Stalemate: Missy Schottler.

Billstone: Rick Neumann, of Bethesda, and F.M. Vinson.

Billbatross: Joan E. Runge, of Beltsville.

Carpetnagger: Don and Carol Wyatt, of Laurel.

Carpetbaggage: Rich Bucheimer, of Frederick, Md., and Thomas L. Brown, of Rocky Ridge, Md.

Consort-of: Beryl Benderly.

Bill-and-Chain: Cathy Malcomb, of Owings Mills, Md., and John Held.

Rodhim: Hank Wallace, of Northwest Washington.

Better Gaffe: Deborah Kallgren, of Portsmouth, Va.

Malady-in-Waiting: Denny May, of Amissville, Va.

Hillbilly (and similar forms): Carol Ostrow, of Laurel, then 43 like hers.

Liar-billity: Ed Tucker, Carlos P. Avery, of Rockville, and Neal Miller, of Portland, Ore.

First Manacle: Alan Speicher, of Falls Church.

First Mate: Tom Reise.

Billbored: Tim Bennett, Sandra Speiden and George Kaludis.

First Bubba: Paul Marshall, of Chevy Chase.

Nextofspin: Jerry Lafreniere, of Sterling.

First Shady: Jon Greenwood and Robert Truhn.

First Laddy: Gloria Parloff, of Bethesda, and another that arrived without a name attached.

Wenchman: Ruth Ketler, of Silver Spring.

Atrophy Husband: Larry Jackson, of Arlington.

Bitter Half: Jill Knox-Dick, of Alexandria.

And the entry submitted by nearly one-fifth of all contestants, Ex-Husband.

No, we aren't through with the Clintons yet. Here's the October challenge, which concerns the president's future once again:

If Bill Clinton were ever to encounter Monica Lewinsky again, that meeting would best be described as a... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize will be as full of fireworks as a renewed Clinton-Lewinsky get-together. It's 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 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 October contest must be received by Oct. 31.

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

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