Words that do not Exist but Should

This idea, or more correctly this class of idea, came from two sources. One was Douglas Adams & John Lloyd’s book The Meaning of Liff—and the later expanded version The Deeper Meaning of Liff—which took underutilised place names and repurposed them into such wonderful definitions as “Moffat (n.) That part of a coat which is designed to be sat on by the person next to you on the bus.”.

The other was a collection of so-called “untranslatable” words from other languages. For example, the Portuguese saudade—a deep emotional state of nostalgic or profound melancholic longing; or the Yaghan mamihlapinatapei—the wordless, meaningful look shared by two people who both want to initiate something, but are reluctant to do so.

Adams himself may also have been inspired by these untranslatable words. In Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency there is a London restaurant called “L’Esprit d’Escalier”, which is a French term for thinking of the perfect comeback after the discussion is over.

Here, rather than co-opting place names as Adams & Lloyd did, I have tried to come up with new words, some of which are not entirely unreasonable. This is a living document and I may at some point ask for your help in coming up with these new names, as in most cases the definition comes first.

AmbiQ §

(Noun) A question to which answering either “yes” or “no” does not make the situation any clearer.

Emporviiium §

(Noun) An establishment with an eight-letter name—the minimum length for a Wi-Fi password—and thus, a solid first guess.

Entropium §

(Noun) A material that maximises entropy. What earphone cables are made out of.

Isonope §

(Noun) A line on a map connecting equally scary or dangerous points.

Llort §

(Noun) The opposite of a troll. Coined by Paul Graham here.

Lorem Oopsum §

(Noun) Filler text that has accidentally made its way into a final product.

The Lucas Ellipsis §

(Noun) The incorrect, but excusable, instance of an ellipsis used by George Lucas in the opening credits of the Star Wars films ....

Netlag §

(Noun) The shift in a human’s circadian rhythm caused by binging on Netflix.

Partick’s Principle §

(Noun) The phenomenon whereby typographical errors become easier to spot the more permanent the medium in which they are written. Those hard to spot in a document editor become easier when exported to PDF, easier again when printed out, and blatantly obvious when finally—and irreversibly—submitted. Named by designer Patrick Cusack.

Skeuphemism §

(Noun) An emoji when used as a euphemism .

Squrling §

(Verb) The much frowned-upon activity of curling in the squat rack.

Strook/Struk §

(Noun) A type of thick academic book that is only ever used to elevate a screen. A structural book.