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Is there a word for wondering if there's a word for something?
September 29, 2009 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Is there a word for wondering if there's a word for things? I do that a lot.

In the list I keep of potential AskMefi questions, I'm seeing a lot of "is there a word for..." items, and I find that I'm prone to that thought a lot.

I'd think with things like Urban Dictionary et al, that teh intertubes would be a good place to either source words or get consensus on calling something by a particular word.

The old thing of Sniglets, and the newer phenomenon of Santorum would seem to bear this out.

So I guess my question is
1) where to look for "yes, there is a word for that, and it is _____"
2) if there's a name for the behavior of wondering about / looking for / coining names or new words.
posted by penciltopper to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
where to look for "yes, there is a word for that, and it is _____"

A thousand AskMetafilter questions.

(But the answer is almost always that there's no word for it.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:36 PM on September 29, 2009


1) where to look for "yes, there is a word for that, and it is _____"

A reverse dictionary. (At least for established words, not so much for Urban Dictionary-type neologisms, obviously.)

And, not a direct answer to your questions, but you'd probably enjoy Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages, wherein the author interleaves brief stories about his reading the OED with a few hundred of his favorite words from it, most of which are in the vein of "who would have thought there was a word for that!" In any case it will make you skeptical of people who claim too quickly that there's no word for it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:08 PM on September 29, 2009


2) if there's a name for the behavior of wondering about / looking for / coining names or new words.

As far as the "looking for" bit, "Paul McFedries suffers from neologophilia..."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:16 PM on September 29, 2009


Logoquerious? Lexoblivious?

(Not to be confused with Lexoblivion, the gorgeous 3d role-playing Scrabble game.)
posted by rokusan at 3:35 PM on September 29, 2009


Re: Sniglets.. There was (maybe till is?) a feature on CBC Radio called "Wanted Words," where listeners wrote in their suggestions for the weekly challenge. Some good ones: If there were such a newsletter I would be intrigued and wish to subscribe to it.
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:48 PM on September 29, 2009


[sigh] Is there a word for hitting the preview button and not actually checking the formatting?
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:54 PM on September 29, 2009


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