Mighty Red Pen

December 12, 2007

Brave new words

Filed under: Word wars — mighty red pen @ 8:30 pm

Well, it turned out to be a conversation for which MRP was not really needed, but since I was suprised by the answer, I thought others might be interested, too.

Dear mighty red pen,

what is the correct terminology for a single word that has a capital letter in the middle of it, e.g. MacBook? 

stumped in somerville

Well, I had no idea, but Stumped eventually wrote back and referred me to the Chicago Manual of Style, saying, “Not as interesting as I’d hoped.” Actually, I thought the answer was pretty interesting:

A word with a capital letter in the middle of it is said to have a “midcap”; such a word itself can also, by means of synecdoche, be referred to as a midcap. The name seems especially apt, given that corporations seem to be responsible for most such constructions. The word “midcap” does double duty in Standard & Poor’s MidCap 400—in which “MidCap” not only refers to a class of medium-sized companies but is itself a midcap.

Ooo, CMS made a funny at the end there, didn’t they?

In other totally-made-up word news, w00t (yes, those are zeros) was voted Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year 2007.

Don’t look at me, I voted for blamestorm.



  1. The name of our blog, GrammarBlog, is the result of one of our many in-jokes. We were constantly annoyed at marketing types who decide a great name for a product is two ordinary words, capitalised and smushed together. (Yes, that word is smushed). The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back? NewcastleGateshead – two cities, one re-brand budget.

    Comment by Gez — December 13, 2007 @ 10:57 am | Reply

  2. Words like PostScript had what we used to call BiCapitalization. As far as I know, it was never was reduced to a noun or verb. CamelCase is more common in my circles. I hadn’t heard of MidCap. I hoped such words would go away but merging two cities’ names is beyond the pale. Sigh.

    About MW’s new words… IMHO, w00t should have been inducted years ago. I think I could be called a Pecksniffian at times.

    Comment by rpmason — December 13, 2007 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

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