Word Fugitives

In attempting to write this review of Barbara Wallraff’s  Word Fugitives, a book about finding or coining words needed to convey concepts not defined by a known or existing word, I found myself quite relating to Wallruff’s theme.   Somewhere out there, I am certain, is a word that defines a person who is extremely interested in odd and unusual words and enjoys using words no one around them has ever heard of.   Sadly neither Word Fugitives not any of the dictionaries or thesauri I consulted led me to this particular fugitive term.   Thus I was unable to begin this piece by saying  "This one is for my ______ friends."

This failure notwithstanding I found I did greatly enjoy Wallruff’s compilation of rare and coined terms requested and suggested by reader’s of Wallruff’s newspaper column.   After all who amongst us would not benefit from knowing a word for "that restless feeling that causes one to repeatedly peer into the refrigerator when I’m bored".   Though I am not actually too fond of the suggestions "leftoveractive imagination" or "smorgasboredom" though "procrastifrigeration"  seems a bit more promising.  By contrast I was relieved to learn there is an actual dictionary word for the problem I often have of mis-hearing or mis-understanding song lyrics.   Such relief to be able to explain simply that I suffer from "mondegreen",  even if no one I explain it to has any clue what that word means.

Other coined terms you many find truly useful include "windventory" (the process of sorting through a dirty clothes hamper in search of a garment that can be worn immediately) or "carcissism" (the belief that traffic signals turn red whenever they sense your approach or even "karmaclasym" (a day when everthing that can possible go wrong, goes wrong.  And then some.)   For those who are intrigued by odd and unusual words or for anyone who has ever hunted for an elusive term for a seeming common  situation,  Word Fugitives is Recommended.

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