Celebrity Neologism: Words Needed For 2014
Niche groups have been creating words and phrases for some time. Merriam-Webster has noticed some coined words in society and added them to their dictionary. Here is a short list of 2014 entries: crowdfunding, hashtag, selfie, and turducken. I thought hashtag was already an official word, but my spell-checker disagreed.
Hashtag: "a word or phrase preceded by the symbol # that classifies or categorizes the accompanying text (such as a tweet)."
You Need a Word for That
Word-smithing is a regular craft for rappers, comedians, authors, etc. Sometimes the new words are in the hook of a song, the punchline of a joke or the special ingredient that saves an author from being too cliche.
Jerry Seinfeld and the Seinfeld Show created several words. Have your heard of a manssiere? According to the Seinfeld Show, a Manssiere/Bro was a support garment for male breasts. Used as a real product idea by the shows characters, the term also caught on in pop-culture.
Nicki Minaj had used 4,162 unique words in her published music, according to Matt Daniels 2012 data. This was below average compared to other lyricists. His website, "The Largest Vocabulary in Hip Hop" is fascinating. The Wu-Tang Clan rated at the top for newly engineered words. I wonder how Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein would rank?
Frisbeetarianism "is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck." - George Carlin
Comedian George Carlin was no stranger to neologism. His term, "Frisbeetarianism" coupled humor with theology; another common utility for neologism. There seemed to be a great connect with the audience regarding this humor. Something like this can be a picture, that is, it tells a thousand words with one shot.
Word-smithing by Mary Poppins
Possibly the most renowned made up word is, "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious." The character Mary Poppins, played by Julie Andrews in Disney's 1964 film, helped bring this term to life. There is a decent fan following surrounding th word, including disputes about the meaning. When observing the use of the word in the film, it appears to be an expression like, "yay!" This is because it is used in celebration after winning a contest. However, the characters clearly put it as, "something to say when you have nothing to say."
Four New Words to Express 2014
The life of a celebrity brings about some unique experiences to which there are no words to express. So I made some up.
The following are coined in light of Merriam-Webster's annual custom:
- Mauvais Voyage
It is likely that some of us have had similar experiences, but never stopped to think that they are common. By creating a new word or catch phrase, we can easily identify and categorized the experience. It might be a little drab to first categorize our own or Joe Schmoe's experiences with new words. If we start by examining our favorite or the most rumored celebrities as the pilot, we're more likely to remember and utilize the coined terms.
JLaw - "Shmandered"
Jennifer Lawrence and many other celebrities were the targets of a new type of personal tort this year. Social and legal debate sprung up as to whether The Cloud was private storage. Obviously, stored data on a third party's virtual shed may subject it to the view of the grounds keeper. Does this make it public? Do users of cloud technology enter a push-button contract similar to content submitted to Facebook, i.e., submissions belong to the storage keeper too? Ultimately, their private photos were shared to the World Wide Web without authorization, many of them compromising in nature.
Shmandered: not exactly slander, but the public shaming of someone via sensitive information. An extreme use is like a smear campaign.
Cosby - "Mauvais Voyage"
We are familiar with the salutation, "bon voyage." This is French for "have a nice trip" or "safe journey." I am reminded by Bill Cosby's age that he is in his golden years. While he is approaching his final journey in life, he appears to be mobbed by the skeletons in his closet. So far the allegations have not been officially substantiated, but there are certainly many claims of sexual assault. This would be the opposite of a friendly farewell, rather a mauvais voyage.
Mauvais Voyage: a bad voyage, a negative farewell salutation.
Bizzle - "Celebfluenza"
This year an old, but lessor known term was used to defend a teenager who committed several criminal acts in Texas. Ethan Couch was intoxicated when he committed manslaughter with his vehicle, but the defense brought up the theory of a disability called affluenza. In summary, affluenza is when a person is too rich to care or too rich to understand the impact of their actions. The end result is that the criminal receives little to no punishment and is treated different than those who are not rich.
Similar to affluenza is when a celebrity commits a crime, but receives additional consideration not offered to the regular citizen. If you are struggling with a teenager over rule and consequence, they might get the wrong idea from some celebrity examples. It is important to distinguish that most teenagers and young adults will not qualify for a celebfluenza diagnosis.
Celebfluenza: crimes committed due to the disability of being famous.
Shia LaBeouf - "Phoenigma"
According to Miriam-Webster's Dictionary, two definitions for enigma include: "something hard to understand or explain" and "an inscrutable or mysterious person." You may recall the 2009-10 performance stunt by Joaquin Phoenix. The stunt was for his fauxcumentary (coined) I'm Still Here. During this campaign, my favorite actor was even harder to understand. He claimed to have quit acting, began a hip-hop career, made public appearances while intoxicated/drugged (or so it seemed), etc. He was a new enigma.
I had almost forgotten this event until another great actor seemed to be channeling this behavior. Was Shia completely present in 2014? Some of the trouble he got himself into seemed too odd to be true. Several times I wondered if he was performing a subtle gag, acting, rather than having real life mistakes. Perhaps he did a little of both.
Phoenigma: someone mysterious with acts akin to Mr. Phoenix's "I'm Still Here" work.
Let's Take a Vote
Which Word Are You Most Likely To Use?
Spread the Word
After creating a few new words from 2014 celebrity experiences, there is still a lot of work to do. In order for them to be picked up by a dictionary in 2015, the words have to be shared, understood, and used. There is bound to be more of these unique instances. When it occurs, just use the word. More specifically, tweet it with a hashtag.
Have you or someone you know been shmandered lately? Hi, I like long walks on the beach, kittens, Volbeat and my friends think I'm a phoenimga. Maybe that would be a good, self-endearing adjective?
I'd give a special award (or shout-out) to anyone that can effectively use one of these words in an official document. For example, listing on your submitted resume, "Public Relations - proficient in mauvais voyage damage control."
Join my experiment and see if any of these words catch on.
© 2014 t aaron brown