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An Ever-So-Felicitous Neologism Winner

by Bob Levey

His profession qualifies him in spades: He's a copy editor for the American Journal of Physiology. That job requires him to ferret out "lots of infelicitous phrases or dangling participles leading to ambiguities," Martin Mould said.

Our monthly neologism contest requires the winner to forge one highly felicitous new word. Martin has just done that, so he sits atop the December heap.

The December challenge, to which about 3,000 word maker-uppers responded, was:

Back in the 1960s, you lived "the life" – rock music, illicit substances, recreational sex whenever, with whomever. But now it's 35 years later, you have children of your own and you're the strictest parent in captivity. This change of attitude is called...

Martin's winning entry:


That coinage joins "surrender" to hippiness and produces a play on "serendipity." The word struck me as hard as a Rolling Stones guitar riff. How, like, perfect, as today's (infelicitous) kids would say.

Speaking of kids, Martin is the father of 15-year-old Ben, a sophomore at West Springfield High School. Ben is "very bright and very iconoclastic, " Martin said. "He's rebellious against society.... He reminds me a lot of myself."

Our winner received graduate degrees in linguistics at UCLA and studied and taught in Africa during the 1970s. Like so many previous winners, he said his winning coinage "just happened to hit me so hard."

That makes two of us. Congratulations!

A carry-over note from last month:

Two contestants had the same word as the winner ("denieters"). I didn't honor them because I misfiled their entries. A belated tip of the cap to Kate Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa., and Mark Amtower, of Highland, Md.

Almosts and Nearlies for December were:

Hippieocracy: No fewer than 437 of you filed this, or a closely related form. Jonathan Ritter was the first of the hordes.

Boomerangst: Carol Cramer, E. James Lieberman, Clarence M. Johnson, of Beltsville, and Carole S. Lyons, of Arlington.

Reefermation: Paul Thurneysen, and Kate Ferry again.

Sternabout: Hugh Ferry, of Clearwater, Fla., Leora Mora, of Chevy Chase, and P.J. Siegel, of Greenbelt.

Boom Harangue: Cynthia Hall.

Glower Power: Two-time champ Susan Mayer, of Taos, N.M., and Sidney Secular, of Silver Spring.

Woodstop: Jeff Gold and Richard Struble, of Jessup.

Parentdigm Shift: Jennifer Toms, of Oak Hill, Va., and with similar forms, John Held and Emelda Valadez, of Waynesboro, Pa.

Backsire: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

Transgonzofication: Charles H. Stockton Jr.

LSDo-As-I-Say: Chris Taylor Moller, of Reston.

Hip Displacement: Margaret Shemo.

Freedomnesia: Holly Terres.

Aboutphase: Recent champ Joe Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa., and Betty James, of Manassas.

Hippiety: Greer Hoffman.

Baby Bummer: Robb Converse.

Chipocracy: Zora Margolis.

Turnhipout: Yarri Kamara.

Jagger-Not: Suzanne Gesin, of Arlington.

Role Regrettal: Shari Randall, of Springfield.

Dejive-Vu: Recent champ John O'Byrne, of Dublin.

In-doctor-laurination: Bryan and Mimi Veis.

Matermorefusses: Alan Penn, of Rockville.

Groaning Up: Maeve Herbert.

NotAsIDoism: Gordon M. Alexander, of Greenbelt.

Transparenting: Ron Pytel.

Antiaquarianism: Robin McNallie.

Timidly Leery: David and Jennifer Ramey, of Rockville.

LSDenial: Paul Crystal, of Arlington.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do Wah Didi Didi'd: Jim Resnick, of Middletown, Md.

Retrobution: Maura Roan, of Potomac.

Keroaction: Former champ Rick Hatch, of Cabin John.

And Hippie-Go-Lowkey: Len Greenberg, of Sterling.

Excellent, gang. Let's see if you can carry that skill and elan into the new year. Here's the January challenge:

The car-fetcher comes zipping up the ramp with your precious set of wheels. As you hop in, he holds the door with one hand and extends the other toward you, for a tip. But he never looks directly at you. This ever-so-cool tip-seeking pose is called... (Click to see winning entries)

As always, first prize is even cooler than a tip: 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 January contest must be received by Jan. 31.

© 2001 Bob Levey (
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

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