Mighty Red Pen

May 3, 2010

Aquapocalypse now

Filed under: Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 7:20 pm
Tags: ,

The impulse to blend words always amuses me.  This winter, we had the Snowpocalypse. MRP readers are familiar with the Four Grammarians of the Apostrophocalypse. And there’s the irresistible urge to put the suffixes -gate, -licious, or -holic at the end of pretty much any word. Here in the Boston area, the onset of what some are calling the Aquapocalypse (and others, H2OMG) reminded me of Jan Freeman’s column the other week on “frankenwords.”

Reminding us that words we take for granted, such as bureaucrat, electrocute, and starvation are as blended as words such as chocoholic, humorectomy, and danceathon, Freeman writes:

“Today the air is thicker than ever with such verbal fireflies, though most will glow only briefly. And what’s “acceptable” has become a matter of taste — or age. We may groan at irritainment and adultescent, but miniskirt and glitterati, now over 50, are old friends. Like our censorious forebears, we love some blends and hate others, call some adorable and others ugly. What we don’t do, in the 21st century, is condemn them as crimes against Latin and Greek.”

Read “Frankenwords: How We Came to Love our Unholy Creations.” Would it just be too much to call thousands of gallons pouring into the Charles River from a burst pipe Watergate?



  1. “It’s true, I’m a rageaholic. I just can’t live without rageahol!” -Homer Simpson

    Comment by tk. — May 4, 2010 @ 1:28 pm | Reply

  2. My current personal favourite would be the “Fashionista”. Ok – I acknowledge that the suffix “ist” could be use to show an adherence to a trend or custom. However, I really think that just sticking an “a” on the end of the “ist” is just lazy. I actually spotted a shop full of trendy young clothes, proudly using this as their brand. If I find someone who is racist, do they now become a “racista”? Or does someone who supports Communism become a “Communista”?

    Comment by Debbie Moore — May 9, 2010 @ 7:55 pm | Reply

  3. I’d have liked to add a comment to the post about the Volcano, where the ‘c’ was forgotten, but apparently comments are closed or not accessible. Therefore I’ll post it here – maybe, if you like, you can edit it and shove it over there.

    There is a second error in the report found on CBS: “…magnificent site…” should almost certainly read: “…magnificent sight…” – a cupertino?

    Comment by odondon — May 10, 2010 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

  4. Debbie, the “-ista” suffix was borrowed from Latin and “became a favourite formative of names denoting the observers of a particular rite, the holders of special religious or philosophical tenets, or the adherents of particular teachers or heresiarch; hence such names as Catharista, Origenista, Platōnista, ” according to the OED.

    Comment by goofy — May 11, 2010 @ 9:47 am | Reply

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