Words & Phrases Needed

Have you ever found yourself explaining an idea for the fifth time and wishing there was a single word for it? Often, in English, there is and we just haven’t learned it yet. The experience of finding an existing word for an arcane but useful concept can be exhilarating. Other times, there isn’t already a word, so a neologism is needed. (A sniglet is usually defined as a word that isn’t in the dictionary, but should be. I think many of the sniglets in popular collections are merely funny and not really useful. I prefer to think of a sniglet as a new or little-known useful word for an obscure concept. My favorite example is aglet, which is the plastic coating around the ends of shoelaces.)

With the influence of several of my logophile friends, I have made a habit of identifying concepts in search of an encapsulating word or phrase, and now I have a growing list of them. Please e-mail me any ideas you have to fill in the blanks in column 2! Some of these, I admit, are ridiculously specific ideas that no one but me would really want to say in a single word. (I’d rather have silly concepts I can’t utter tersely than silly words I’ll never use.) Others are things I think many of us really could use a word for! I welcome non-English words or phrases, if they’re really to the point.



Quoted by

The phenomenon of re-encountering the same piece of information soon after you first learned it [n.] the Recency EffectRobert Isaacs
Saying “I would never do that” as a humorous denial when you mean “(except for those few significant times that you’re referring to).”
“I’m sorry I stepped on your heel.” (The need for this word arose during a church choir processional. Much more specific than a mere “Oops, sorry!”)
When older, the wonder at how one could get anything done in one’s youthful ignorance [n.]
Inappropriately useful [adj.]
The feeling of having a deep appreciation of something, when you can’t do it yourself [n.] (Different from amateur or dilletante, each of which describes a person. I’m hoping for a single word for the vicarious pleasure that person feels about a particular field.)
Micro-baby-steps [n.]
Wasting one’s breath talking about how bad something is [v.]
The tense moment at the end of a date, parting at the door [n.]
The maximum time to wait when holding the door for a stranger [n.]courtesy gapFrances Geller
Regret at finishing one’s sushi too fast [n. or adj.]
When a person is so far away, you can’t tell whether they’re walking toward you or away from you [adj.]
A (long) word that can be formed from a name or phrase, but can’t be used in an anagram because the remaining letters don’t form words [n.]
The co-development of high art or technology; building on the work of others; the long-term accumulation of skills and knowledge that make “the state of the art” in fields such as Olympic training, particle physics, etc. [n.]

30 December 2001