Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Merriam-Webster gives me a ginormous headache

Along with 100 other neologisms, the word ginormous has entered the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

I like new words. I like how elastic our language is, how alive it is, how sensitive to cultural changes it is. I hate the word ginormous.

I hate it because it is absolutely unnecessary. Enormous or gigantic (the two constituent words from which it was derived--making it [one of my favorite words] a portmanteau) would suffice instead of ginormous. Therefore, ginormous isn't necessary for meaning.

Second, it is not shorter or easier to say than either of the words it replaces, so it's not easier to say. In fact, it's an ugly word.

Third, it's only reason for existing seems to be it's cuteness factor. It makes you seem clever or hip when you say it.

Ginormous is similar in its uselessness to a word my students have been using recently: "chillax," a portmanteau combining "chill" and "relax." Again, the three criteria above apply. Chill or relax mean the same thing as chillax. It is no easier to say. It is just another word that is used to be cute.

If I follow the logic of the above words, I could create some stupid words of my own. How about "sleenap," as in, "I'm tired. I'm going to sleenap."

"Workoutercise," as in, "I need to lose some weight, so I'd better start workoutercising."

"Confereneeting," as in, "After lunch, we have a sales confereneeting about third quarter profits."

"Clidy," as in, "We have guests coming over, so I'd better clidy up."

Read the article about ginormous here.

1 comment:

The McGuffin said...

Couldn't agree more. It's almost a laziness on the part of whoever says it, mixed in with a little ain't I clever. No, you're not. Along the same lines, the one trend that makes me cringe is the shortening of celeb names. J Lo, K Fed...and so on. The one I that actually makes me cover my ears is Joe Pa. How lazy can people be? This insipid nickname is only short two syllables (terno) of his full name...

I do dig "workoutercise"...it has a ring to it.