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M Followed by N Spells Neologism Victory

by Bob Levey

"My job forces me to attend these sorts of functions," Monona Yin told me, with a small sigh. So she is well versed in the art of sneaking glances at name tags during mixers and dinners.

The result: Monona reigns as queen of our April neologism contest.

Along with about 3,000 fellow make-up- a-word contestants, Monona faced this challenge:

At a social-business event, you meet a person who's wearing a name tag. You know you'll never remember the person's name without a bit of cramming, so you surreptitiously steal glances at the tag. These sly, furtive looks are called...

Monona's winning answer:


Of course, that's a play on "mnemonics," or devices that assist one's memory. Many other contestants came up with entries based on the same word. But no one else began an entry with an M and followed it with an N.

Because she did, Monona proved that she truly understood the pun she trotted out. As a result, she wins first prize: a free lunch at a restaurant of her choice.

Alas, that lunch will have to wait, since Monona lives in Brooklyn and works in Manhattan. She has no immediate plans to be in Washington, and I have none to be in New York. But when either agenda changes, my mnemonic system will remind me to "do lunch" with a most deserving winner.

By the way, angle shooters, Monona submitted her winning entry on April 28, just two days before the curtain rang down on this month's contest. She has proved that early birds do not have a monopoly on worms.

Monona works as a grants officer for a foundation. She grew up in Wilmington, Del., and has lived in New York for 12 years. She describes her husband, Steve Fahrer, as a "socially responsible broker."

She can now describe herself as a winning wordsmith. Congratulations!

Almosts and Nearlies for April were:

Legerdename: Greg L. Dobbins, of Arlington.

Namecopping: Pat Wadsworth.

Tag-tics: Paul Rothstein and the team of Edith and Alan Stein, of Silver Spring.

IDee-kaboos: Roger Gilkeson, of Northwest Washington.

Peekadillos: The team of Natalie Goodman and Jeff Fowler.

Peeruettes: Michael Gips, of Bethesda.

Peekonnaissance: M. Rosendahl.

Peek a Who: Bruce Powers, of Falls Church, first, then 13 more exactly like his.

Nomenglancure: Stephanie and Roger Messersmith, of Springfield.

Nomenclincher: Stacey Kenkeremath, of Alexandria.

Myopeeks: William R. Miner, of Northwest Washington.

Seen-a-nym: Diann Nickelsburg, of Virginia Beach.

Name-culling: Recent champ Jayne Townend.

Titleation: Pat Riordan.

Slydentification: Hank Wallace, of Northwest Washington, Larry Utterback and Karen M. Johnson.

Eyecontag: Michael Gohr.

Slyeye-Ds: Nick Flokos, of McLean.

Finogling: The Stein team again.

Nomchalant: Diva Lynch, of Leesburg.

Recollooktion: Jerry E. Sullivan, of Fort Belvoir.

Nom de Whom?: The team of Adam Greenberg and Amy Lampert, and Martha Graham Bailey, of Severna Park.

Identipeeks: Natalie H. Seitz, of Dumfries.

Kleptonamia: David Brelsford.

Fits of Peek: M. Lee Bragg.

Remeyender: Barbara Rich, of Charlottesville.

Sneak Attags: Gerard M. Babendreier.

And Lapelling: Karen E. Holt, of Charlottesville.

Excellent, gang – but I've come to expect it.

Let's get in gear with the May challenge. It's based on an idea submitted by Juliet Piekarski. She's an office mate of the March winner, Paul Droubay (sorry for misspelling your last name on April 9, Paul).

Juliet puts us right back at one of those social-business events we all love so dearly:

What do you call the subtle maneuver used to escape someone who corners you at one of these name-tag-type events and won't set you free? (Click to see winning entries)

There is no escape from first prize. It's a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sensibly near Washington. Name tags will not be required.

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 May contest must be received by May 31.

© 1999 Bob Levey (
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of the author.

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