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by Ellen Wernecke
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Thursday Oct 16, 2008

Every year, to much fanfare, groups like the American Dialect Society and dictionary publishers like Merriam-Webster announce their "word of the year:" that word or neologism that best sums up what has happened to the world in the preceding 12 months. The premise is a bit silly -- ADS already picked "subprime" for last year, even though the risky mortgage term was just beginning its odyssey of financial destruction -- but some years can be perfectly encapsulated in one word: 2001 and 2002 had a great one-two punch with "9/11" and "WMDs," followed closely behind by 2004's "red state/blue state." (And it pleased us to see "truthiness" celebrated in 2006, if only because it's a great word.)

Jim Banister's Addictionary isn't especially topical, but the neologisms it contains ought to give word lovers a chuckle. Not all of them are new to Banister: "Prostitot" ("A teen or tween who follows in the footsteps of celebrity bad girls such as Britney Spears") has penetrated much further, unfortunately, and "conslutant" has several destinations all of which your author was acutely aware.

But the bite-size definitions of these terms, largely wry combinations of other words (as opposed to wholly unique coinages or plays on famous names), are themselves intrinsically pleasing. The opposite of rose-colored glasses, naturally, are "skepticles"; a food which has been doctored by adding in vitamins should be said to be "healthicized." And there is a certain currency to these; a willingness to reflect the life experiences of the savvy hipsters who would pick up a book like this. Fifty years ago, the Internet did not exist; now one can use Google to find out everything (that person would be a "Googlion") or be cut off from the Internet completely in a state of "connectile dysfunction."

O brave new world, that hath such terms in't.

Abrams Image, $12.95. Illustrations by Robert Hanson. 1q60 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0810972698. Available whereever books are sold, or online through Amazon.

Ellen Wernecke’s work has appeared in Publishers Weekly and The Onion A.V. Club, and she comments on books regularly for WEBR’s "Talk of the Town with Parker Sunshine." A Wisconsin native, she now lives in New York City.


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