By its own account, the Washington Post sometimes gets credit, if incorrectly, for an amazingly viral list of neologisms from 1998 in which a real word has been changed by one letter, often paired with another to give new meanings to existing words. The list is usually topped by “Sarchasm: the gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the recipient who doesn’t get it” , Tom Witte’s Style Invitational winning entry of Week 278.
So, many, many years ago someone ran a contest and emails containing the list have been circulating on the internet, unchanged, ever since: the “MENSA Invitational” email has become one of the enduring urban legends of netlore,
But hey, it’s a good idea. So we thought we’d collect words here. Nowadays we get thousands of words a year and post the best of them – words that are fun, funny or useful.
In the annual lists in the Prior Winners section you will find more than 6,000 words that have been published since we first started. Published entries have burgeoned from just 78 words in 2010 to 562 in 2022.
If you want to enter the contest, feel free to send in a word for consideration on the Submit Words page. We’ll post anything that’s clean (meaning your very bright 7-year-old can read it without you wincing – the selection panel winces for you; quite a lot, one way or another). More information can be found on the FAQ’s page.
Once a year we have a contest to determine the ten best words (with no scientific validity whatsoever). A panel of “experts”, made up of our most prolific contributors, determines the final winners, limited to one word per contributor, plus “Best of the Rest” to acknowledge good words from frequent contributors and words that didn’t quite make it and “Ringers” for words that don’t meet the rules but appealed to the panel. The top 10 words for each year from 2010-2022 have been collated at Previous Winners
THIS SITE IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE WASHINGTON POST!
The Washington Post still runs contests, but not with the rules that apply here, and we commend them for it.
ORIGINAL EMAIL :
The Washington Post’s Mensa invitational once again asked readers to take
any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing
one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are the winners:
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject
financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.
3. Intaxication : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you
realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright
ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign
of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of
7. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person
who doesn’t get it.
9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon : It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these
really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like,
a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day
consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido : All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they
come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve
accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.) : Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your
bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the
fruit you’re eating.
The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its
yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings
for common words. And the winners are:
1. Coffee , n. The person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted , adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has
3. Abdicate , v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade , v.. To attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly , adj. Impotent.
6. Negligent , adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a
7. Lymph , v. To walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle , n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence , n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been
run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash , n. A rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle , n. A humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude , n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon , n.. A Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster , n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism , n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up
onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent , n. An opening in the front of jockey shorts worn by
Feel free to email this list anywhere you want. It’s not ours. We don’t own it. We haven’t copyrighted it. We don’t want to. We just want to have some fun with words!