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Thesaurus Plus Inspiration Equals a Winner

by Bob Levey

Loren Booda is the McDonald's of wordsmiths. Where most neologism contestants submit one brainstorm, or at most three, Loren submitted 56 (!) last month.

The 16th was the charm. It catapulted Loren from his first near-miss mention a month ago to the winner's circle this month.

Like about 3,000 fellow make-up-a-word fans, Loren faced this challenge:

You throw a dinner party. When you serve the main course, three guests bite into the entree. Then all three immediately ask you for the recipe. This reflex is called...

Loren's winning entry:

Dishingenuousness.

To these eyes, that coinage perfectly captured not only the idea of a dish, but the less-than- honest enthusiasm with which recipe-requesters pipe up. Put the two together, as Loren did, and you have a blue ribbon.

Our winner, 43, lives in Arlington, in the same house where he grew up during the 1960s and 1970s. Loren, a physicist by training (bachelor' s from George Washington, master's from George Mason), works as a volunteer at a senior citzens home, for a mental health hot line and at Potomac Overlook Regional Park.

He credits his parents with his wordsmithing skills. His father was military editor at Aviation Week magazine, and his mother regularly made short work of the notoriously difficult London Times crossword puzzle.

"I look at words kind of like an equation," Loren said as he tucked into his victory lunch of California rolls at Sushi-Zen Restaurant in Arlington.

He approaches each month's contest methodically, armed with a thesaurus and a rhyming dictionary he grabbed off the Internet. Loren says he doesn't know how many hours he spends on the contest each month. But it's obviously more than several.

Yet Loren is very alert to uncertainty. The vanity plates on his new Honda Accord read: QUANTA.

That refers to the unpredictable ways that particles and waves interact. Loren thought it was especially appropriate for the unpredictable alleyways of a Bob Levey neologism contest. Levey thought so, too. Congratulations to a worthy winner!

Almosts and Nearlies for February:

Reci-thiefs: Scott Hutchinson.

Plattery: Carole Lyons, first among 12 equals.

Reci-plea: Chrissie Holtzer, of Derwood, then 13 others just like hers.

Entree-ty: Steve Elvove, then another 25 who did it the same way, right down to the accent over the second E.

Gaga Reflex: Greg Coxson, of Moorestown, N.J.

Platiarism: Nyal King, of Silver Spring.

Palatesse: Neil Shawen, of Falls Church.

Haute Cuisinquiry: Allison Butts.

Chowriosity: Zora Margolis, first, 12 others right behind her.

Quizine: Sheila Yuter, Wilma Schachter, former champ John O'Byrne, of Dublin, Bob Rager, of Seabrook, and Robin Buchanan.

Digestionnaire: Nancy Gast Romps, of Falls Church.

Juliachildishness: Karen Beck, of Annapolis.

Recipe-rocity: Eve Pines led the way. An additional 43 contestants filed this entry, or forms of it.

Menuflecting: Sam Mecum, of Lancaster, Pa., and Craig Homenko. Marc LeGoff and Lawrence Moore, of Northwest Washington, and former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg, submitted a slightly different form.

Chow-towing: Former champ Joe Ferry, of Erdenheim, Pa.

Reciplease: The team of Jim and Meghan Lau, Liz Starr, of Arlington, Richard Jaffe, of North Potomac, Lauren Evoy, Barbara Turner, Arati Singh, of Arlington, and Cassie Corbin, of New York City.

Ingrati-eating: Edith and Alan Stein, of Silver Spring.

Fawnfare: Susan West.

Recovetry: Millie Tansill.

Chompliments: John Nelson, of Seoul, followed by 11 others.

Kiss-Buttiquette: Erica L. Seiler, of Stafford.

Recip-paucity: Mary Hornsby, of Normandy Park, Wash.

And Conplimenting: Mitch Katz, of Arlington.

Really first rate, troops. Let's see if March is for lions or lambs. The March challenge is:

Oooooooh, you're my baaaaaaaby! Heeeeeere, honey sweetness snookums! The way people talk to pets is unlike the way they talk to anyone or anything else. The cutesy, sing-songy voice that people use to address pets is called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is pretty cute, too. It's a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sanely 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 (leveyb@washpost.com). 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 29.

© 2002 Bob Levey (leveyb@washpost.com).
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.


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