Radiolab

Navigate
Return Home

Struggle Pumps

Monday, December 10, 2012 - 01:05 PM

Scuffed high heels (M I T C H E L L/flickr/CC-BY-2.0)

Have you heard of the concept of "nominalism?"

As I understand it, the gist is that giving something a name is a crucial part of bringing it into being (Plato talks about this, as does Foucault). So when it comes to abstract concepts (anything from Déjà vu, to Love, to Innocence, to... hey hey... "nominalism"), they literally do not fully exist without their names. (Now, you might not agree. You might subscribe to the idea that there are universals out there that care not if you name them or not -- they exist just as completely with or without your stupid name). But for those that buy it, it's a powerful idea: if you can capture a concept and distill it down to the right words, you make it real.

So for those who like wordplay and Godplay, good news! 'Tis the season!

Winter marks the time of two big word creation contests: Washington Post's Style Invitational and The American Dialect Society. (Details below)

I thought there was a chance some of you 'lab listeners were the type to be incubating some clever new terms. So, A) submit! But, more fun, B) why not share some here? We could build a little cornucopia of freshly baked words. And what could be more fun than that?! (Note, there is a troubling lack of irony in my tone right now). It's been a hard Fall.


To get the ball rolling, I wanted to share with you a new word invented by my friend Lindsay. This term is such a powerfully useful one, that ever since she told me about, not only do I use it a lot, I use it with a kind of fierce love. I cherish it when I get to use it. And I didn't want the world to have to go another day without knowing it:

Struggle Pumps

The idea is that these are the (real and metaphorical) footwear you find yourself wearing when you're having a particularly hard time with things. That's as best as I can define it. But here's Lindsay explaining its creation, definition, and usage:

The Story of Struggle Pumps

P-Mailing

Oh heck, while I've got ya hostage, here's one of mine.

I don't know if you're anything like me but getting things done in an efficient way literally gives me a little thrill. When I'm crossin' things off the list -- bam, bam, bam -- I'm like, heck yeah. Puritan Buzz. And it turns out, there's a GREAT way to up your Puritan game. What? Getting emails done in the bathroom... AKA... P-mailing! Like the "e" in e-mail (is it "electronic?" "excruciating?") the "p" in p-mail could mean a number of things. I'll let you think on its multiple meanings. Either way, I've become quite the enthusiastic practitioner.

Flush!

Buzz.

Oh wait. The contest details:  

Washington Post Style Invitational. Deadline Dec 16.

Rules: Style Invitational is a weekly wordplay contest (joy!) and this "neologism contest" is their famous one. The specific rules for this year's are: to come up with a new word by changing (you can add, drop, or substitute) one letter of a real word. Here are past examples. This year, the words you change must start with T, U, V, W, X, Y or Z.

Submit to: losers@washpost.com

Submission guidelines here.  

American Dialect Society. Deadline: January 3rd.

Gist: Any new word or term. The oldest word-of-the-year contest in the English Speaking World!

Submit to: woty@americandialect.org

Submission guidelines here.

Tags:

More in:

Comments [16]

karip from Grand Rapids, MI

Love it!! I have so many pairs of struggle pumps in my closet it's overflowing. Here's to a pair of kitten heels for just an okay day.

Feb. 02 2013 01:04 AM
Aliza Earnshaw from Portland, Oregon

Enforced jollification: Any workplace party or social gathering that is mandatory and takes place outside of normal working hours. Examples: Christmas party or company picnic.

Jan. 06 2013 05:33 PM
Lulu Miller

UPDATE: The Washington Post contest has just announced its winners. There are some GREAT ones! ie:

Umbilicall: A daily phone conversation with mom.

Thummyache: A symptom of overtexting.

Tomcant: A neutered kitty.

Dadpole: A frog.

(heh heh. i really love Dadpole.) Check the full results here:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/week-1004-dead-letters--write-a-funny-verse-about-someone-who-died-in-2012-plus-our-change-a-letter-winners/2013/01/03/813737aa-531a-11e2-bf3e-76c0a789346f_story.html

Jan. 03 2013 04:24 PM

Psycosemanticus Hypocondria: A condition developed by a person who hears another complain of a real Illness and instantly acquires that Illness only,with several times the severity.
Example:
Jane: I've had this headache for an hour.
Sarah: Oh,I know what you mean,I've had this migraine for days.

Jan. 03 2013 11:42 AM
Sally from Buffalo, NY

I feel like I've been "struggle-pumpsing" for years! Thanks for the great share. Time to embrace the high-heel of hope.

Dec. 26 2012 12:43 PM
GM from PDX, OR

Stroogling -- what happens when you Google something and are unable to find the site or information you're really looking for; can also mean a lapse of memory, as in, "I'm really stroogling to remember when Honey Boo Boo is on."

Dec. 20 2012 12:46 PM
Sean from Chicago

I want to revise a word.....I think "insteresting" sounds way better than interesting. Go ahead,try it.

Dec. 20 2012 04:39 AM
Shannon from Dallas

My 10 year old has for many years called any bird or group of birds making loud, clattering, screeching noises a "Kwaka-choop". I have no idea where she came up with this term. However, we have now expanded this term to include any group of prattling noisemaking humans.

Dec. 17 2012 03:39 PM
Catoon from earth

I've been saying it for ages, the world needs a rhyme with orange. Does anyone want to submit Torange, Vorange, Worange, Yorange or Zorange?

Dec. 16 2012 05:06 AM
chuck williams

p-mail. I believe that word is already taken. I prefer the spelling pee mail. This is what the dogs in the park are checking as they go from tree to tree.

Dec. 15 2012 10:05 PM
Hoosier Jeffrey from Indiana

This is SO Wonderful! I'm so totally going to use this term from now on!!

Dec. 13 2012 11:09 AM
Tob

Doesn't Urban Dictionary already has this very same thing?

Dec. 12 2012 03:27 PM
Chris from Maine

e-mazed: the overwhelming, take-your-breath-away feeling when you get a full grasp of the breadth of technology at your fingertips; ex. - "I was overcome with e-mazement when I realized I was listening to music, reading a book, and communicating via social media all over an invisible internet that flies through the air, while on a train hurtling at 100mph." OR "I'm so e-mazed I nearly pooped my shiny space pants."

Dec. 12 2012 03:09 PM
Kavita from Boston

I've started using the term 'sleugling' to describe sleuthful Googling.

If you have ever looked up an ex/a potential hire/a future boss/a weird neighbor/yourself/your nemesis, then you too are guilty of sleugling.

Or rather, is there anyone with an internet connection who has not sleugled?

Dec. 12 2012 02:17 PM
Will Rogers

I tutor a 10-year-old kid who uses the word "mumph" to say, "oh I don't really know what to say"

Dec. 11 2012 11:04 PM
Joe H from Utah

Emoticonic. For that category of feelings simple enough to be described with two or three keyboard strokes.

The word might especially be useful to say, "look my feelings are not emoticonic about this," meaning that this is not going to be just a one sentence explanation--it's a bit complicated.

Dec. 10 2012 11:20 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Supported by

Feeds