Word­smithing doesn’t re­quire ham­mer and anvil

Antelope Valley Press - - VALLEY LIFE - Ver­nac­u­lar Vern Law­son

Com­put­ers are bet­ter than type­writ­ers for sev­eral rea­sons. When I bought a new com­puter last year, I dis­cov­ered that ev­ery­thing I’ve writ­ten in the last 12 years is avail­able, listed al­pha­bet­i­cally.

The Wash­ing­ton Post used to have a con­test for peo­ple who could cre­ate new words by al­ter­ing one or more letters.

Here are some ex­am­ples I’ve found:

Sar­chasm: The gulf be­tween the au­thor of sar­cas­tic wit and the per­son who doesn’t get it.

Flab­ber­gasted: Ap­palled by dis­cov­er­ing how much weight one has gained.

Psy­chi­a­tryst: A clan­des­tine sex­ual li­ai­son with a shrink.

Monomeism: A hu­man’s be­lief that he or she is a god or a god­dess.

Aque­duck: A mal­lard that en­joys swim­ming in a canal.

Anony­mouse: A ro­dent that leaves a trail but can never be found.

Awk­word: One that’s dif­fi­cult to pro­nounce while you’re try­ing to woo a mem­ber of the op­po­site sex.

Sput­ter: The sound a golfer makes af­ter miss­ing a birdie putt by an inch.

Catophony: The sound of two fight­ing fe­lines at 3 a.m.

Can­tan­ker­ous: The out­rage you feel when $40 worth of gaso­line won’t fill up your tank.

In­track­table: Moun­tain­ous re­gion too rugged to al­low con­struc­tion of a high-speed rail line.

Thingy: Any item that can’t be de­scribed in any other way.

Un­ham­pered: Dirty clothes that are still left on the floor un­til some­body comes along to wash them.

Coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence: Any con­cept that one can prove — in his own mind — to be ab­so­lutely stupid. Am­bi­tex­trous: The abil­ity to send a mes­sage on your phone with ei­ther hand while driv­ing. But don’t do it.

Destruc­k­tive: Mas­sive dam­age done to busi­nesses and res­i­dences by an 18-wheeler that loses its brakes while headed down a steep hill. Don’t try this un­less you’re a stunt­man mak­ing a movie.

De­scrated: A badly man­gled pack­age that was im­prop­erly packed and is fall­ing apart when it ar­rives on your front doorstep.

Ob­fuskater: A con­fused am­a­teur try­ing out a new set of blades on ice.

Apoca­lyp­stick: Makeup suit­able for any cul­mi­nat­ing or de­ci­sive event in­clud­ing a ro­man­tic breakup or the sud­den and vi­o­lent end of the world.

And here are some jum­bled words made up from 2020 news sto­ries:

Ukrain: A heavy down­pour in an East­ern Europe na­tion.

Berth con­trol: What a con­duc­tor does on a train with sleep­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions.

Iowa cau­cuss: Bleeped words fol­low­ing losses by can­di­dates.

Chi­nese check­ers: Peo­ple who cal­cu­late higher prices on goods hyped by tar­iffs.

And then ev­ery once in a while the an­cient proverbs that have help guide hu­mans to avoid ob­vi­ous mis­takes need an up­date.

Here are some sam­ples: The early bird gets the best park­ing space.

Ac­tions speaker louder than words — a fact lost on mem­bers of Congress.

All the world loves a lover, but be­ing un­faith­ful can ruin a good po­lit­i­cal or sports ca­reer.

Beauty is only skin deep and may be the re­sult of plas­tic surgery.

Let sleep­ing dogs lie but don’t let ly­ing dogs sleep.

April show­ers bring forth May ba­bies.

A fool and his money are soon parted — which ex­plains why so many states have lot­ter­ies.

Ci­vil­ity costs noth­ing, in­ci­vil­ity can cost you jail time and a big fine.

Hon­esty is the best pol­icy but pre­mium rates can be raised an­nu­ally.

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