Neologisme

The Word For… by Ivan Crouch

There ought to be a word for “the limbo-like precincts of an airport baggage claim, where groggy travellers gather around the motionless treads of empty conveyor belts.” It is a singularly desolate scene, and there should be a succinct way for a forlorn luggage-seeker to text a quick apology to the friend who is idly circling the airport roads. Now, there is: “baggatory.”

That clever turn is just one of a couple hundred neologisms coined by Liesl Schillinger in her new book, “Wordbirds: An Irreverent Lexicon for the 21st Century.” Other gems include “social crawler” (a party-goer who accidently mingles with losers); “Facebook-happy” (a miserable person who fakes bliss in carefully managed Facebook posts); “polterguy” (an ex-boyfriend who haunts future relationships); “factose intolerant” (a person who claims a false allergy or irrational antipathy to certain foods); and “rotter” (the bottom drawer in the refrigerator where produce goes to putrefy). Most of the words and phrases in the collection are accompanied, in a bit of whimsy, by an illustration of birds acting out the scenes described: the “social crawler” is a peacock mixing with pigeons.

 

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