Get orbisculate into the dictionary

To orbisculate. Meaning, “to accidentally squirt juice and/or pulp into one’s eye, as from a grapefruit when using a spoon to scoop out a section for eating.”

orbisculate“Is ‘orbisculate’ a word? The late Neil Krieger’s children want it to be.” That’s the title of a recent Boston Globe article.

“Hilary Krieger, now 43 and an editor for NBC News’s THINK, was 24 when she used it with a friend… ‘We were eating fruit – I believe it was oranges – and I said, it ‘orbisculated on you.’ [The friend] was like, ‘That’s not a word. … My first feeling was pity. Like, this is going to be embarrassing when he finds out that this is a word.'”

Except that it wasn’t. It was a creation of her father. “Neil Krieger was a scientist and entrepreneur. After 20 years teaching neuroscience…, he founded West Rock Associates, a biotech grant recruitment firm. He was committed to civil rights activism and was involved with the Boston chapter of CORE (Congress of Racial Equality).

“Krieger died of complications from COVID-19 on April 29. He was 78.

“Now his adult children are on a mission. They want ‘orbisculate’ added to the dictionary, to honor their father. (Also, it’s a perfectly useful intransitive verb, they say.) They’ve launched a website with a petition to dictionary editors.”

The blog

And on the website is the post How to Break into a Dictionary.

“The way a word qualifies for inclusion is when it’s being used by a lot of people. Dictionaries employ scores of editors to scour the English language for new words and check whether they’re being used often and widely. And like many things, the best way to get a word used widely is by word of mouth…

“But there was, of course, a catch. Dictionary editors only count certain types of uses of the word: When it’s used in context. That means that references to the word as a word, rather than employing it for what it means, don’t get added to their count.”

OK. “I hold the Friskies cat food can away from me when I open it, lest it orbisculate on me.” BTW, this is true.

The Krieger family is “also selling T-shirts with the word on them; all proceeds benefit Carson’s Village, an organization that helps families with resources right after a loss (the group does everything from helping to coordinate burials to setting up obituaries, for free).”


I am sympathetic because I’m a big fan of the word lunaversary. It’s made it into the Urban Dictionary, but its example is terrible. “Our 4-month lunaversary is on Saturday.” NO! “Our fourth lunaversary is on Saturday.” Yes!

The Merriam-Webster people are looking at the ‘-iversary’ word part. “Monthiversary (with its variant monthaversary) to be the strongest contender for full establishment in the language.” [SHUDDER!]  Mensiversary would be OK, I guess, but one loses the sense of the insanity of new love.

Essentially v. for all intents and purposes

lie/lay/lain; lay/laid/laid

For All IntentsOne of my Facebook friends, a guy in my neighborhood, posted the graphic above. I’d never seen “supposably,” though I suppose I might have heard it.

But I’m fascinated by “for all intents and purposes.” Why would one say that at all these days, when you could use “essentially” or “in effect”? Let’s go to the dictionary.

“In a 1546 Act of Parliament, the phrase ‘to all intents, constructions, and purposes’ was used to convey that King Henry VIII had unlimited power to interpret laws. Apparently, the people of England took a liking to the phrase—just not the ‘constructions’ part.

“Thereafter, the phrase began appearing in legal documents and other writings in forms such as ‘to all intents’ and ‘to all intents and purposes.’ Nowadays, the latter phrase has survived—chiefly in British English—and ‘for all intents and purposes’ was popularized in American English.”

So it’s an American variation on a British Parliament concession to a monarch’s overreach of power. Got it.

“It is often mistaken as ‘for all intensive purposes’ because when spoken aloud these two phrases sound very similar. These mistakes, where incorrect words and phrases are replaced but the meaning remains the same, are known as eggcorns.”

I’d come up with my own intentional eggcorns for this phrase, just for fun. “For all in tents and porpoises,”, e.g.

As for the others

Regardless Of What You Think, ‘Irregardless’ Is A Word. That was the title of an article just this month. So irregardless, something I say intentionally as a joke to my wife, is a word. Even before the designation, it was always “a word.” Just not a very good one.

Certain phrases I just avoid. “I could care less” is one. This and the “expresso/espresso” bit both show up in Weird Al’s Word Crimes.

Googling pacifically, I found I Love My 30s, a bit from Gina Brillon: Pacifically Speaking. My spellcheck doesn’t even complain.

“I seen it” is something that I usually hear in extemporaneous speech, and it doesn’t distress me. “I’ve seen it” is what they meant, right?

Did you know that upmost is a variant of uppermost, meaning “highest in location, farthest up”? “My office is on the upmost/uppermost floor of the building.” Whereas of upmost importance suggests “highest” in a non-physical sense.

Finally, the lie/lay thing is nuts. The past tense of lie is lay. The past tense of lay is laid, which is also its past participle. Now the past participle of lie is lain, which almost no one uses at all. Let’s call the whole thing off.

Z is for words that start with Z

The only four letter word that I did not know but that had a definition was zarf

zigzagBereft of an appropriate topic for the week, I went to the Wordfinder Words that Start with Z, which “can help you score big playing Words With Friends® and Scrabble®.”

I started with the one two-letter word, za: Shortening and alteration of pizza.
Our Living Language: When people speak casually of ordering a za, “pizza,” they are unwittingly producing an expression that language historians find interesting. Za derives from the full form pizza by a process known as clipping.

OK, I get it, but can’t say I really like it.

Moving on to the three-letter words:

zin: (informal) Zinfandel wine
I’ve used that, actually. And have drunk it.

zag: any of the short, sharp angles or turns of a zigzag pattern, as alternating with a zig; any sharp turn away from a straight course
No surprise that zig has a similar definition, both deriving from zigzag, which is shown above. I’ve only used the shorter words in variation, such as “I zigged when I should have zagged.”

zep: Chiefly New Jersey (See submarine sandwich)
Origin of zep – Possibly short for zeppelin (from its shape).

zek – An inmate of a Soviet labor camp.
From the Russian

zax -A tool similar to a hatchet, used for cutting and dressing roofing slates.
Origin of zax: Variant of sax, from Middle English, knife, from Old English seax; see sek- in Indo-European roots.
Which looks a lot like a variation of ax.

The only four-letter word that I did not know but that had a definition was zarf
-a small, metal holder, used in the Levant to hold a cup of hot coffee
-a chalicelike holder for a hot coffee cup, typically made of ornamented metal, used in the Middle East.
-an ornamental container designed to hold a coffee cup and insulate it from the hand of the imbiber
Origin of zarf: Arabic for receptacle, vessel, container

Interestingly, none of the Z words appear in my spellcheck. This is not to say that they are illegitimate, only uncommon. Check out the longer words that start with Z for yourself, see which ones you know, and improve your Scrabble® prowess.

ABC Wednesday – Round 19

(Fairly) New in the Dictionary

Those late 19th and early 20th century elixirs had all sort of funky stuff in them.

I was clearing out some old newspapers when I came across the continuation of a story from August about words being added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, which I meant to write about at the time. Does that ever happen to you? Here’s the article.

Shown below are some of the words, along with a few thoughts about them. The years indicate first documented use.

aha moment
– n (1939) a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension

Surprised this didn’t make it sooner.

brain cramp
– n (1982): an instance of temporary mental confusion resulting in an error or lapse of judgment

There are some variations on this term that may be more popular.

bucket list
– n (2006): a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying

I was really shocked this was so recent since they’ve made a 2007 movie with this title; check out this website of things you should do before “kicking the bucket”

cloud computing
– n (2006): the practice of storing regularly used computer data on multiple servers that can be accessed through the Internet

I still don’t understand how this work, even though I have some music stored there

– n (2009): a short-lived artificially produced radioactive element that has 112 protons

When they say short-lived, they are not kidding. I think it was measured in nanoseconds. Can this be a real element?

craft beer
– n (1986): a specialty beer produced in limited quantities: MICROBREW

I’ve also heard the term artisan used.

– n (1802) 1: CORN EARWORM 2: a song or melody that keeps repeating in one’s mind

I assume the second usage is a lot more recent.

energy drink
– n (1904): a usually carbonated beverage that typically contains caffeine and other ingredients (as taurine and ginseng) intended to increase the drinker’s energy

Those late 19th and early 20th-century elixirs had all sorts of funky stuff in them.

– n (1999): a handheld electronic device designed to be used for reading e-books and similar material

Maybe someday, I’ll have one…

– n (1988): … used metaphorically as a euphemism

Such a delicately described definition!

– n (1998): one whose normally meatless diet occasionally includes meat or fish

I’ve seen the term, but I’ve never heard anyone actually say it.

game changer
– n (1993): a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way

It’s such an obvious sports metaphor, I figured it would be much older.

– adj (1919) … 2 slang: drained of energy: SPENT, EXHAUSTED

A certain irony that being gassed and being out of gas have similar meanings.

– n (1996): a pub, bar, or tavern that also offers meals of high quality

Never heard anyone ever say this either.

– n (2000): a game in which players are given the geographical coordinates of a cache of items which they search for with a GPS device

This is something I would do, if I had the time. And the right equipment.

life coach
– n (1986): an advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals, or deal with problems

I probably need one.

man cave
– n (1992): a room or space (as in a basement) designed according to the taste of the man of the house to be used as his personal area for hobbies and leisure activities

There was a big to-do in the Albany area when the man cave of a pair of state workers was discovered.

– n (1859): something created by combining elements from two or more sources

I assume the original meaning was about liquor. The current definition, regarding music or video, wasn’t broadly technologically available for that long.

– adj (1986): promoting excessive weight gain: producing obesity

I’ve never seen or heard of this word.

– n (2007): the sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone

Something that I hope I don’t have to explain to my daughter.

– adj (1998): of a construction project or site: ready for the start of work

Very popular after the government stimulus program.

systemic risk*
– n (1982): the risk that the failure of one financial institution (as a bank) could cause other interconnected institutions to fail and harm the economy as a whole

The SOBs.

tipping point*
– n (1959): the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant and often unstoppable effect or change takes place

This always reminded me of a seesaw.

– adj (1664) … 4: relating to or being an asset that has lost so much value that it cannot be sold on the market

The SOBs, part 2.

– adj (1672) … 3: having, relating to, or being a mortgage loan for which more is owed than the property securing the loan is worth

I’ve known so many people in this situation in the past three years.
14 wonderful words with no English equivalent.


*Not shown in the newspaper article.

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