Word Spy Blog

The Accidental Neologist

This week’s accidental theme is, well, accidents. Specifically, accidents related to Scotland, traffic, lips, aging, feet, and, of course, words.
Words Spied
ajockalypse n. The alleged political chaos that would ensue should the Scottish National Party win a large number of seats in a United Kingdom election (apocalypse + Jock [Scottish variation of the name John]). [Politico]

crashless adj. Incapable of getting in an accident, particularly due to the use of technology designed to prevent or avoid crashes. [Men’s Journal]

lipthinking n. Thinking out loud. [Twitter]

zenosyne n. The sense that time speeds up as we get older. [The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows]

Word of the Week

pedal error n. Pressing the wrong pedal while driving, particularly when this results in an accident.

A series of exhaustive investigations by federal regulators, with help from NASA engineers, established that the perception of an electronic failure was almost certainly illusory. The problem was caused either by the fact that some people put in poorly fitted, nonstandard floor mats or by the fact that drivers were pressing the accelerator thinking that it was the brake. (Pedal error, as it is known, is a well-documented source of vehicle malfunction, affecting drivers of many makes and models.)

—Malcom Gladwell, “The Engineer’s Lament,” The New Yorker, May 4, 2015

Cruft* of the Week

stuplime adj. Inane or silly to the point of transcendence (stupid + sublime). [Slate]

“Poorly built, possibly over-complex; generally unpleasant” —The Jargon File.

Quick Links
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Close Quote
Far from being vulgar or frivolous or both, wordplay is a complex literary device permitting a richer response to language. Skillfully deployed, the pun does not bandy words, but bandages together (it arises, after all, from a linguistic accident) disparate meanings. Its vivacious, sometimes pugnacious presence warns the reader against taking the text at face value.

—Gary Egan, Verbatim