Monday, May 08, 2006


There are a few examples in the English language of words derived from the actions of notorious individuals. For example, "bowdlerize" means to expurgate by omitting the vulgar portions and was derived from the name of the 19th century editor Thomas Bowdler. "Spoonerism" refers to the transposition of the initial sounds of two or more words and comes from Reverend William Spooner, known for his creative malapropisms such as his royal toast to "the queer old Dean." And "malapropism" itself originated from the misspeaking character Mrs. Malaprop in R. B. Sheridan’s play "The Rivals."

These few name-derived words are fine as far as they go. But in the interests of expanding our useful vocabulary, a review of today’s leading Americans suggests the following possible new linguistic creations:

bushelled: a state of utter confusion brought on by a series of misguided decisions as in, "George was so bushelled, he was thankful he didn’t have to run for reelection."

harriet: to attack one of your own; to self-defeat - e.g. - "It was astonishing to watch the right wing commentators harriet the conservative nominee."

deLayed: removal from office through one’s own egregious misdeeds as in, "Tom wouldn’t admit it but the latest indictment had clearly deLayed him."

rumsey: a confusing figure of speech used to conceal the truth - e.g. - "Donald’s reliance on unknown unknowns resulted in an inadvertent rumsey."

cheneyate: to surreptitiously rule through a surrogate as in, "When Dick made himself Vice President, he knew he could cheneyate the White House."

rover: a loyal subordinate who will do whatever is necessary to protect the boss - e.g. - "By outing the undercover agent, Karl proved he was the number one rover."

kerrify: to drain the life and fun out of a social encounter; to bore or make one lose interest; syn. to goreate - e.g. - "The party looked like a winner until John opened his mouth and started kerrifying."

hillarize: to accessorize in the manner of British royalty; to dress frumpily - e.g. - "Despite spending inordinate sums on clothing, the senator always managed to hillarize her appearance."

schwarzen: to condemn or criticize others for lack of aggression or machismo - e.g. - "Arnold couldn’t help but schwarzen the Democratic girlyman."

clintonism: a deliberate misuse of language intended to avoid responsibility as in, "When Bill parsed the meaning of the word ‘is’, he committed a huge clintonism."

cruise: to pontificate on matters not within one’s own area of expertise; syn. to streisand - e.g. - "Tom liked to jump on sofas and cruise about psychiatry."

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