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Retire the Trophy: Susan Wins a Third Time

by Bob Levey

"I think I know when to retire," Susan Eaton told me. May she never do it. She reigns as the best there's ever been. Susan has captured first place in our monthly neologism contest for the third time.

No one else has done that in the 18-plus years that we've been hunting for great made-up words. To Queen Susan I, heartiest congratulations.

The October wordsmithing challenge attracted about 3,000 entries. It was:

Richard Armour, a poet, wrote this in 1949:

Shake, shake, the ketchup bottle,
First none'll come and then
A lot'll.

Truer words were never written. But what do you call the fact that ketchup is slow, slow, slow to emerge?

Susan's winning entry:


What a tangy merger of "red" and "reticence"! I didn't take as long to choose this entry as ketchup takes to blurt from a bottle. I knew right away.

So did Jim Taylor, of Alexandria. He submitted the same brainstorm, but a week later than Susan. Less ketchuplike sluggishness next time, Jim.

Our winner captured her first neologism crown in 1997 as Susan Mayer. Her coinage of "petrolance" won her a free lunch in Georgetown. The challenge that time was to describe how you feel when you gas up the car, only to discover a station half a mile down the road where the price per gallon is far less.

Susan Mayer won again in May 2000, this time when she was living in Kigali, Rwanda. The challenge was to describe the embarrassment a man feels when he's caught reading the sex-advice articles in the checkout aisle of the grocery. Susan called it "roue{acute}nation."

Now, she wins under a new name, and at a new address: Taos, N.M. She and her husband bought "a fixer-upper here about a year ago," Susan said. "I classify myself as retired."

She also said she considers herself "mighty lucky" to have won this contest three times. Mighty talented is more like it.

By the way, Susan asked that the cost of her victory lunch be donated to my annual Send a Kid to Camp fundraising campaign. It shall be done. Many thanks for Susan's stroke of generosity toward the children of her former home town.

Almosts and Nearlies for October were:

Insquirtia: Laura and Matt Doster, of Springfield.

Torpour: Greg Dobbins, of Arlington, followed by 11 imitators.

Impourtinence: Brad McKay, of Arlington.

Saucery: John Held.

Condimental Drift: Dick Pawlowski, Jerry Richardson, Michele Barnard, Greg Coxson, of Moorestown, N.J., Yi-Fun Hsueh, of Chevy Chase, and Richard Jaffe, of North Potomac.

Ketch-22: Former champ John O'Byrne, of Dublin, Howard Walderman, of Columbia, Carole Lyons, of Arlington, and Jan Verrey.

Condimentia: Kathryn Tussing, then more than a dozen others with the same entry.

Condimentopause: Former champ Roger Gilkeson, of Northwest Washington, and the Falls Church team of Mindy and Dan McDonald.

Gunk Ho: Karen Kenworthy.

Antiseepation: Jennifer Sklarew, of Arlington, and former champ Scott Burroughs, of Wake Forest, N.C.

Heinzzzzzzzz: P.J. Siegel, of Greenbelt, and Katina R. Evans, of Northeast Washington.

Cantsup: Jean Stewart, of Northwest Washington.

Neckedness: Roger Gilkeson again.

Globstinacy: Former champ Jayne Townend and Roger Gilkeson yet again.

Condiminimus: The Bethesda team of Rich Koffman and Jacqueline Duby.

Lentomato: Sally Stokes, of Silver Spring, then 10 more just like hers.

Tomatose: Victor Weaver and Peter Pover.

Embottlement: Edith and Alan Stein, of Silver Spring.

Condormancy: Michael Gips, of Bethesda, and (with a similar form) Joanne Casares.

Incondimence: Bill Barbieri, of Takoma Park.

Delayed Splatification: Michael Kovac.

Un-red-iness: Don Larrabee, of Bethesda.

Annoytia: Sidney Secular, of Silver Spring.

Ketch-stuck: Angela Patterson.

Constipato: Sam Mecum, of Lancaster, Pa.

And Pouralysis: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

Neatly fashioned, neologists. Let's see if you can be equally neat in November. The new challenge for this new month is:

You're a baby boomer who has adored the Beatles since you were a teenager. You think of the Lads from Liverpool as being yours. But your teenage child says to you one day, "Hey, Dad, I heard this great new singer. His name is Paul McCartney. I think he used to sing with some group once." The emotion you feel is called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize never changes with the generations. It's a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or near Washington. Forbidden: gags about whether Levey will still need you or feed you when you are 64.

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 November contest must be received by Nov. 30.

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

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