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Mendacity Provides a Neologism Winner

by Bob Levey

He says he hasn't become an expert at it, because the calls are usually for his wife, not for him.

But when the phone rings at his home early on a Sunday morning – and it often does – Peter H. Gould is used to hearing his spouse say:

"Oh, no-o-o-o-o-o, you didn't wake me."

Said sweetly.

Said falsely.

Now all that pre-dawn experience has given us a winner.

Like about 3,000 of his fellow wordsmiths, Peter took aim at the February installment of our monthly neologism contest. The challenge was:

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...

Peter's winning entry:


I thought it was a lovely fusion of "sandman" and "mendacity" – clearly the key forces at work when the phone rings before it should on a Sunday.

Our winner is a lawyer for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a government agency that works to ensure that your pension is there when you need it and expect it. He has worked at PBGC since 1979. He specializes in pension plan termination insurance.

Peter has lived here since 1965. He grew up in Indiana, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He and his wife, Katryna, have an 8-year-old son, Paul. They live in Northwest Washington.

Peter and I weren't able to connect for his victory lunch before this column ran. But we are making plans to do so soon. In the meantime, many congratulations (and many fewer early Sunday phone calls) to a worthy make-up- a-wordsmith.

Almosts and Nearlies for February were:

Dozie: Ellen C. Ing and Jim Hickey.

Awakconning: Sidney Secular, of Silver Spring, and Dian McDonald, of Alexandria.

Reveillie: Carole S. Lyons, of Arlington, first, then a cast of dozens.

Dawn's Early Lie: Gus Smith, of Alpharetta, Ga., and Mary Beth Williams, of Lorton.

Crock-a-doodledoo: Dorna L. Richardson, of Columbia, and Gus Smith again.

Blearney: E. James Lieberman, of Potomac.

Subtersnooze: Judy Cullen.

Prevarawaketion: Jerilyn Schweitzer.

Yawrn: Susan Eaton, of Taos, N.M.

Slumbterfuge: Maura Roan and (with a slightly different form) Noah Spivak.

Peccapillow: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg, and Clarence M. Johnson, of Beltsville.

Dormendacity: Jean L. Stewart, of Northwest Washington.

Dormnial: Jack Carey, of Bethesda.

Dozavowal: Former champ Everett Rice, of Columbia.

Bull-dozing: Former champ Zane Schauer, of Annapolis, first, then many, many more just like his.

A.M. Bellishment: Peggy Morrissette, of Dunkirk, Md.

Slumbug: Former champ Marlene B. Cohen, of Columbia.

Fake-Up Call: Mary Liniger Hickman, of Hyattsville, and Wendy Jordan.

Desheetfullness: Laura Baker, of Jefferson, Md.

Disslumbering: Diane Graft, of Centreville.

Dreamentia: Evelyn Fleegal.

Trancegression: Alice Velky Nordan.

Morndacity: Zora Margolis.

Afakening: Alice Houk, of Gaithersburg, and Rich Koffman.

R.E.M.bunk-tiousness: Cheryl Lurie.

Perjureveille: Meggen Watt, of Alexandria.

Doze-ception: Hillary and Vicki Jackson, of Leesburg.

Disnoretion: Carlin Hetzler, of Ellicott City.

Alarm Crock: Sam Mecum, of Lancaster, Pa., and Larry Levine, of Bethesda.

Desleption: Ben Llewellyn, of Aspen Hill, Sally Stokes, of Silver Spring, and Michael L. Doane.

And Tellafauxn: Walter Smith, of Southwest Washington.

Well done, you word-forgers, you. Let's take dead aim at the March challenge, which (like the month itself) honors spring:

You can spot him any Sunday morning in the checkout line: a homeowner who has vowed to take charge of his patch of earth. He's buying mulch, grass seed, work gloves, a wheelbarrow – all the better to till his garden. Of course, six months from now, his purchases will sit in his garage, untouched. This phenomenon is called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize remains as constant as spring: 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 March contest must be received by March 30.

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

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