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Not Female or 30, but a Neologism Champ

by Bob Levey

He is certainly not a woman, and he is 30 only in his memory, said Zane Schauer. Yet he has just smartly overcome those twin obstacles to win our monthly neologism contest.

Zane was one of about 3,000 entrants to take a swing at our November make-up-a-word contest. The challenge was:

You are a 30-year-old woman. The world always calls you either "Miss" or "Ma'am." But neither word fits. You're too old to be a miss and too young to be a ma'am (or at least you think you are). A better salutation to describe you would be...

Zane's winning answer:


That coinage lies deliciously midway between "miss" and "madam." What could fill the bill better?

Zane may not be 30 any longer, but he made youthfully quick strides to his e-mail account to file the winning entry. Good thing he did. I received 12 identical submissions, some within a few minutes of his, which he sent at 6:45:12 on the morning the challenge appeared.

Our winner is chief of human resources policy at the Commerce Department. He has spent his entire career in human resources, first as an Army officer, then with the Navy, the U.S. Naval Academy, the Indian Head Naval Ordnance Center, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and for the last year at Commerce. His special interest is race relations in the workplace.

Over his victory lunch at the Two Continents Restaurant at the Hotel Washington, Zane explained that he comes by his wordsmithing talents by heredity. He and his 77-year-old father, who lives in Ohio, "do crossword puzzles together by phone," Zane said.

Zane is also a Jumbles, palindromes and Wuzzles addict. He lives in Annapolis, where he serves as a volunteer mediator for the Anne Arundel Conflict Resolution Center. He is also the scholarship chairman for the Federal Employees Education and Assistance Fund, and he is active with Bay Area Community Church. Hats off to him for an excellent winner.

Almosts and Nearlies for November were:

Medi'am: Hank Wallace, of Northwest Washington.

Fraulying: Dennis Millner, of Manassas.

Ole Miss: Former champ Everett Rice, of Columbia, Robert S. Goldfarb, Pamela Trumble, of Rockville, Rich Koffman, of Bethesda, and Tom Tavino, of Leesburg.

Near Miss: Kate Swiencki, of Alexandria, first, then 33 more just like hers.

X-Ms.: Sharon M. Baetcke, of Centreville, and (with a similar form) Alan D. Lichtman, of North Bethesda.

Missnomore: The team of Eric Lichtblau and Wendy Werve, followed by 11 more exactly the same.

Mitwixt: Greg Dobbins, of Arlington.

Betwixie: Nick Flokos, of McLean.

Prema'amium: Sandra Jean Lee.

Hersylph: Naomi Manzella.

Middlema'am: Alva Lewis, of Silver Spring.

MiddleMs.: Nikki Mavin, of Warrenton.

Seniorita: Jan Dalberto and Everett Rice again.

Missfit: Wayne Rodgers.

Justmissed: Fred Robinson, of Gaithersburg.

Middlemoiselle: J. Claire Hackney.

Maidian: Former champ Tom Witte, of Gaithersburg.

MsTakhn: Riki Poster Sheehan, of Bethesda.

ReMiss: Sheila S. Lanahan.

A special last word goes to Adam Sternberg, of Delray Beach, Fla. He decided to ask his wife, who is 30, what her answer would be.

"Your Majesty," she replied.

Excellent, gang – but that's a regular occurrence here in neologism-land. Let's tack one more month onto that excellent reputation. Here's the December challenge:

You're a well-known Washingtonian, and you're often asked to send out publicity pictures. But honesty crumbles in the face of vanity. You routinely send out photos of yourself that are seven years old. They fail to show the lines and gray hairs that the bathroom mirror knows you possess. The habit of hiding your age behind old publicity photos is called... (Click to see winning entries)

First prize is as ageless as the face in old publicity photos: a free lunch, at a restaurant of the winner's choice, in or sanely near Washington. If you accuse Levey of trafficking in outdated vanity shots, he will of course deny everything.

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) and 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 December contest must be received by Dec. 31.

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

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