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August 01, 2004

Words: Baditude and Downer

My wife came up with a good new word tonight: BADITUDE, which is short for "bad attitude". If you go to something with baditude, you are not going to enjoy it. Children often have baditude, as do students, and how to eliminate baditude is an interesting problem. "Gooditude" does not work so well as a word, perhaps because it is too similar to "gratitude". I now see, however, that even BADATTITUDE would be rather useful as a word, and it has a nice look and sound.

My daughter Elizabeth came out with another new word of possible utility: DOWNER, meaning "further down".

I forget the sentence in which she used it, but an example would be "The name 'Rasmusen' is downer on the list than 'Anderson', since it starts with an R instead of an A." The word has a number of good features:

1. It is Anglo-Saxon in its entirety-- both root and modifier.

2. It is short and easy to say and spell.

3. Its meaning is immediately apparent, even to someone who has never heard the word before.

"Baditude" has some Latin in it, which is unfortunate, but its meaning would be clear from context and despite its three syllables, it is short and flowing enough to be useful, and the Latin is in the modifier, which is less obtrusive than it would be in the root.

How, though, would we get these two new words into the language? A problem with a new word is that it stands out and really ought to be footnoted or otherwise explained to the reader. That is okay if it can be done at the start of a long discourse on the subject of the word, but it is self-defeating if the word is introduce merely to save a few syllables. I don't know how to solve that problem, which is akin to the problem of simplifying spelling.

Posted by erasmuse at August 1, 2004 03:59 PM

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