Nov 28 2013

Stop with the ugly neologisms

One of my biggest peeves is the media creating ghastly and unnecessary new words that are mash-ups of two perfectly good words. We have had abominations such as ‘snowcalypse’ and ‘snowmageddon’ for what could be more simply described as a severe snow storms, and ‘staycation’ to denote a vacation spent at home. I am sure there have been many others in the past that I have deliberately driven out of my memory because I despise them.

But is there an uglier word than Thanksgivukkah, coined this year simply because the Hanukkah holiday happens to coincide with Thanksgiving? Does any ordinary person ever use this term?

There is nothing wrong with neologisms that emerge naturally from the ground up as a part of the normal growth and evolution of language. But these are not of that variety. They are purely media creations and utterly artificial. Stop it, media people. However smugly you may say it, such neologisms are neither clever nor useful but merely grating to the ears.


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  1. 1
    A. Noyd

    How about the word “webinar”? *shudder*

  2. 2
    Rob Grigjanis

    We have had abominations such as ‘snowcalypse’ and ‘snowmageddon’

    Abominable snowlogisms!

  3. 3
    David Hart

    I dunno. As a portmanteau enthusiast, or ‘portmanthusiast’, I don’t really have a problem with this sort of thing

  4. 4
    Félix Desrochers-Guérin

    The one family of neologisms that really needs to die is “Whatever-gate”.

  5. 5

    I like neologisms, but I dislike the type used by the media in general.

    I think this problem is typically English. One of the things I love about the English language is its malleability. I guess it’s a double edged sword? I may be wrong, but it seems to me that automatic neologisms don’t arise as much in other languages I speak. Usually, if they do, it’s a copy of the English form (‘gate’ being the most common, in my experience)

    If I can add my own pet peeve: anything-dar. Gayday sort of made sense because of the similarity between “ra” and “gay”. But when you hear ‘crackheaddar’, it just doesn’t make sense anymore.

    Though A. Noyd is right too: webinar is terrible!

  6. 6

    You won’t have to worry about “Thanksgivukkah” catching on. The two holidays don’t coincide again for over 76,000 years.

  7. 7

    Some of them are just ugly, as Thanksgivukkah is, although I always enjoyed when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah hit, because it was near my birthday and also meant we would see my cousins, one of whom also has a similar birthday. So it’s always been the best time for me because it was like a quadfecta of holidays and gifts.

    But then, some are just fun.

    Snowpocalypse (I think google shows you err in referrring to it as Snowcalypse), Snowmaggeddon, Snowzilla, those are fun.

    Carmeggeddon also a great name.

    Stormaggeddon a crap name from a hack writer to prop up his candied teen girl sci-fi show. I hope one day they film a series about the 11th doctor, they seem to have skipped from the 10th to the 12th.

    Bennifer was never fun.

  8. 8

    Well, I’ve coined my own and actually think it’s pretty good:
    That’s when the downpour is about equally split between
    being rain and snow – where you get those splats on the

  9. 9

    What about “frizzle”? –frozen drizzle

    Fo’ shizzle, ma nizzle!

  10. 10

    Your blogoppeal has encouraged the slacktivist in me to … stop doing that… eventually…

  11. 11

    “Thanksgivukkah” sounds like the media trying to outdo Seinfeld’s “festivus”. Seinfeld wasn’t witty, and the media are even less so.

  12. 12
    Rob Grigjanis

    It’s never too early for the Airing of Grievances!

  13. 13

    As I understand it it won’t happen for another 70,000 years … so … don’t worry about it.

  14. 14

    In an idle moment last winter I found myself trying to translate “snowmageddon” into Danish, until I remembered that the Scandinavians already have the word fimbulvinter which means exactly the same thing but is about a zillion times cooler (as it were).

  15. 15

    Thought some might like to know where the term originated -
    - so now you know who to thank/credit/blame.

  16. 16

    The Uglygisms Cannot Be Stopped.

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