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Exotic 'Exhotica' Captures Neologism Prize

by Bob Levey

He never owned a Hula-Hoop or a pet rock, Roger Gilkeson told me. But he now owns an honor more precious than any toy. Roger is the winner of our monthly neologism contest.

Like about 3,000 fellow make-up-a-word enthusiasts, Roger took aim at the September challenge, which was:

Once upon a time, the Lindy Hop was hot. So was the Hula-Hoop. So was the pet rock. But we live in a world of quickly changing tastes, so all these products and pastimes that were once so hot are now cold, dead history. These former cultural kings are called...

Roger's winning answer:


Such a neat combination of "exotica" and "hot" items that are now "ex!" I set it aside in a pile of its own as soon as I came upon it. When the sorting of entries was done, no other came close.

Our winner attributes his wordsmithing talents to his mother, who was a schoolteacher. She loved words, so her son does, too, he said.

An English major way back when at Oberlin College, Roger spent 30 years as a public information officer at the National Library of Medicine. He retired in 1996, in part to spend more time with his parents, Wrenn and Guy, who are 91 and 85, respectively. They live in Leesburg. He lives in Northwest Washington.

Roger says he has spent much of his retirement "getting into the rhythm of freedom." He was certainly into the rhythm of consuming his victory lunch (salmon, at Kinkead's), and he is clearly into the rhythm of neologizing. Well done!

Almosts and Nearlies for September were:

Fuds: Rick Pietsch, Lane Schonour, Terry Campbell and Gregory Cunningham, of Arlington, and Joel Knanishu, of Rock Island, Ill.

Byecons: Untold scores. Dr. William J. Rauch was first.

Zeitghost: David Doyle.

Fadsbeens: Ellen Stotzer, of Albuquerque, followed by 16 others just like hers.

Fadalities (and similar forms): Joseph Pappano, of Northwest Washington, Michael Gips, of Bethesda, Marla Baker and Adele Abrams.

Culturegeists: Len Greenberg, of Sterling.

Fades: The team of Susan Hammond and Jonathan Baker, of Bethesda.

Has-beenies: Sylvia Herman, of Rockville, Judie Weiss and Elaine Jean.

Ic-gones: Mike Curtis.

Fadsils: Amanda Kay.

Rigueur Mortis: Brent D. Yacobucci.

Out-Rages: Maureen Roche.

Fad Ex: Tony Phelps first, then a cast of dozens.

Fadavers: Heidi Hartmann, of Northwest Washington, Beth Benson, of Lanham, and Patricia Turner.

Popped Culture: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg, Sharon M. Baetcke, of Centreville, Marilyn Goldhammer, of Rockville, and Tim McMullen.

Fadigues: Former champ Cathy Smith Caviness, of Clifton.

Iconopasts: Mary Ann Grundborg and Saul Jay Singer.

Faddytritus: Cynthia McGregor.

Iconosaurs: Former champ Colin Ramirez, of Crozet, Va.

Fadout: Royce Van Norman and Ben Llewellyn, of Falls Church.

Fadaways: Gerald and Evelyn Kahn, of Bowie, Clarence M. Johnson, of Beltsville, and Julia Tilley.

Ephemerages: Roy McLeese and Trudy Lehmann.

Jurassic Larks: Paul Rothstein, of Falls Church.

Fad-to-Black: Jean Stewart, of Northwest Washington.

Foldies: John D. Land, of Sulphur, La.

Afterschlocks: Al Toner, of Arlington.

Fantombs: Gay Nanda, of Reston.

Old Beesknees: Lance Smith.

Memorabilgia: Michael Rahn, of McLean.

Iconopasts: Tina Francken, of Crofton.

Very nice, gang. Can you do as nicely with the October challenge? It is:

You buy a new car. All is well for the first few weeks. But then the car begins a campaign to drive you out of your mind. The engine, brakes and all major systems continue to work beautifully. But little things begin to go wrong, one at a time. The mirror won't hold in place. The radio won't shift easily from AM to FM. The breezes whistle through a window that isn't sealed well. These maddening little flaws in a new car are called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize remains as constant as little flaws in cars: 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 and group 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 October contest must be received by Oct. 29.

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

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