All I Got for Christmas was a Bunch of Neologisms

Once again, The Washington Post has published the winning submissions to its yearly contest in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.  (Neologism – a new word, meaning, usage, or phrase.)

The winners are:1. Coffee (n.) the person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted (adj.) appalled over how much weight you have gained.
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.) describes a condition in which you absent-mindedly answer the door in your             nightgown.
7. Lymph (v.) to walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle (n.) olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence (n.) emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are 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.) (back by popular demand): The belief that, when you die, your Soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent (n.) an opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.



And the Washington Post’s Style 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 this year’s winners:1. 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.
3. Cashtration (n.) The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for             an           indefinite period.
4. Giraffiti (n) Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
5. Sarchasm (n) The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
6 .Inoculatte (v) To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
7. Hipatitis (n) Terminal coolness.
8. Osteopornosis (n) A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
9. Karmageddon (n) 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.
10 .Decafalon (n.) The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for           you.
11. Glibido (v) All talk and no action.
12. Dopeler effect (n) The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
13. Arachnoleptic fit (n.) The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through     a spider web.
14. Beelzebug (n.) Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the                morning and cannot be cast out.
15. Caterpallor (n.) The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you’re eating.

And the pick of the literature: Ignoranus (n): A person who’s both stupid and an *******.




A belated Happy Hanukah, and Happy Kwanza, Happy New Year, Merry Christmas and Happy ‘any other’ Holiday that suits your fancy this time of year. 



Another Case for Repetition and Simplicity

If you want your message, opinion or concept to stick, repeat it and simplify it.   Oh yeah, and serve coffee.



Packing the Shampoo

When somebody expresses a request, demand, assertion, or thought that doesn’t seem to make sense to you, try not to react. Instead, pause and look between the lines.





Getting Everybody in Your Organization Involved

We’re finding more companies and organizations adapting the principles of effective public participation for their internal workforces to engage employees.  Here’s how Molson Coors does it.



Stop Staring at Your Problems

One of the public involvement techniques that we talk about and teach is Appreciative Inquiry which focuses on the best in people and organizations and builds on the things that work rather than just on what’s broken.   Surprisingly the research has also found (O’Keefe & Jensen, 2008) that ‘loss-framed’ messages are less effective than positive messages.



What’s next for Corporate Social Responsibility

People seem to expect companies to conduct business in a responsible and ethical manner. We expect companies to do good things — part of that triple bottom line: environmental and social performance, plus economic performance.   It’s now a big part of many communication and marketing plans, but how much of it is just part of the show?



Information Overload

Just last week I was talking with a group of people about information overload and our inability to handle or process the endless stream of email, web, text, Twitter chatter that we’re all subjected to.  It seems that this problem is actually five centuries old.



Great Training  

I spent the first part of November in South Africa working with friends and colleagues on the new IAP2 Affiliate there, and delivering the Emotion, Outrage and Public Participation course locally for the first time.  South Africa is a wonderful place and always a memorable experience.

We’re planning dates and locations for the ‘Emotion and Outrage’ course in 2011and booking in-house classes, so if you’re interested or have suggestions about where you’d like to see it delivered  please let me know at

We’ve set some of the 2011 dates for the IAP2 Certificate course in Public Participation:

February 28-March 4 Orlando, Florida; March 14-18 St Louis, Missouri; April 4-8 San Antonio, Texas; May 9-13 Denver, Colorado; July 11-15 Chicago, Illinois; and October 3-7 Santa Fe, New Mexico.   Phoenix and other dates will be added and if you’d like us to bring it to your town let me know.


For people working for BLM or other federal agencies, the IAP2 Certificate in Public Participation course will be held the week of January 24, 2011, at BLM’s National Training Center in Phoenix.  It’s free to BLMers and may be open to other federal employees if there’s space available.   And did I mention that it’s supposed to be 82 in Phoenix today.  Register through or contact or call 602-906-5536 for more information.

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