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For Demetra, Intuitive Neologism Victory

by Bob Levey

How did Demetra Voyadgis decide to become a geographer? "I got A's in it. I didn't study. It seemed so intuitive," she replied.

And how did Demetra become the queen of the hill in our January neologism contest? "It was an intuition, too," she said.

One that I shared. Of the 3,000 entries I received for the January edition of our monthly make-up-a-word contest, Demetra's was a standout winner.

The January challenge was:

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...

Demetra's winning coinage:


What a delightful merger of "gimme" and "demeanor." I set it aside when I first saw it, and it was still set aside when I'd finished going through the rest of the submissions. An excellent brainstorm.

The brain of former champ Tom Witte had the same storm. But Tom's entry was dispatched by e-mail nearly a day later than Demetra's. Under our rules, he'll have to assuage his hurt feelings with a silver medal.

Our gold medalist works for the Army Topographic Engineering Center near Fort Belvoir. She "uses computers to do spacial analysis," usually of locations that might affect troop movements, Demetra said.

She has been in her current job for nine years. Demetra and her husband, Eric Bernard, live in Northeast Washington.

She was born in New Jersey and grew up in Syracuse, N.Y. She holds two degrees from the State University of New York – one from the Oswego campus, one from the Buffalo campus.

Demetra and her husband hope to adopt a girl from Vietnam this year, she told me over a victory lunch of tuna tartare at the Blue Point Grill in Alexandria.

As for car-fetchers who have gimmeanor, Demetra said:

"Everyone's been there. They've seen that person." And now they have a word to describe his pose.

Congratulations! And that goes double since this was Demetra's first try at neologistic glory.

Almosts and Nearlies for January were:

Palmchalance: Sam Mecum, of Lancaster, Pa.

Dunchalance: Former champ Everett Rice, of Columbia.

Fillhandthropy: Clarence M. Johnson, of Beltsville.

Gimmetry: Hugh Ferry, of Clearwater, Fla.

Exitortion: Aileen Childers.

Valet-say-fare: Leonard Sherp, of Arlington.

Autograft: Albert Friedman, of Northwest Washington.

Waiting for Godough: Lynda Gattozzi.

Surreptiptiousness: Alice Velky Nordan, of Bowie, then 11 more just like hers.

Handtipsipation: Elsie Beardmore, of Annapolis.

Alms Length: Jean Cottrill, of Bladensburg.

Sirhintipity: Art Shaffer, of Springfield.

Cashay: Former champ Joe Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa.

Attiptude: Former champ Jayne Townend. More than 50 others submitted this entry, or very similar ones.

Perkseverance: Jim Taylor, of Alexandria.

Pas de Dough: Stephanie Meehan.

Avert-eyes-ment: Lt. Col. Fred Arzt.

Car-pay Diem: Justine Lisser, of Bethesda.

Booty Language: Richard Efthim, of Lovettsville.

Tipseekerie: James E. Morrison.

Askfectation: Tom Witte again.

Palm Pile It: Jack Carey, of Bethesda, then eight more just the same.

Valet-It-On-Me: Larry Levine.

Gestipulation: Nina Gray, of North Potomac.

And Cue Tip: Uncountable hordes. Richard Miller, of Bethesda, was first.

Your standards never sag, contestants. Very, very good. Let's see if you can top even your stratospheric selves this month, short though it may be.

The February challenge, based on a suggestion by Carol Ostrow, a reader from Laurel, is:

A friend or relative calls you very early on a Sunday morning. You answer with your best froggy, groggy voice. But when he or she apologizes for awakening you, you immediately deny that you were asleep. This little white lie is called a... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is nothing you'll have to pile out of bed early for. It's a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sanely near downtown 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 February contest must be received by Feb. 28.

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

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