Some day I am going to publish my own dictionary. It’s going to have words that real people use and the real meaning of words that folks often misuse.
One of the smartest people I know uses the word “thinger” all the time. She’s a bright, articulate, energetic woman and she says “thinger” whenever there’s something that she doesn’t know the name of but that she wants other people to notice. And it works; as soon as she says it, everyone pays closer attention so that they can learn exactly what a “thinger” is.
Language is her friend and she’s not afraid to play with it. Not surprisingly she made her career in radio.
My Aunt Mary says “spetorious” all the time. That’s sort of a cross between spectacular and notorious. You know when something is really well known and yet wonderfully so. Like the opposite of Jack the Ripper who was notorious but ghastly. Maybe that should be a word too: ghastorious.
The other category for my dictionary will be malapropisms: misused words and their correct definitions. Possibly the most common of these is inflammable; meaning combustible or excitable. Many folks think it means the opposite of flammable and therefore flame retardant. But actually the word has Latin roots and basically means “is flammable” and of course flammable just means flammable.
It’s confusing but that’s why my new dictionary will be so spetorious.
The definition of the word that most needs reiterating is feminist. See, because really angry, unpleasant people feel threatened when bright, energetic, intelligent women are considered their equals, feminist has lost its meaning. Some of these angry folks have lumped women who want equal pay for equal work in with the racist perpetrators of a European holocaust.
There are very few words more offensive than the term “feminazi,” yet the appropriate outcry is silenced because people have forgotten the true definition of the word “feminist” and are not appropriately outraged by the word “Nazi.”
So “feminazi” will be in the new dictionary too. The definition will be, “a word spoken by misogynists who put down gutsy women rather than become better people themselves.”
Noah Webster, move over!
In the Pat LaMarche dictionary, feminist will be defined as someone who loves and respects women. You can be a feminist if you are a man or a woman, a child or an octogenarian, a white vice presidential candidate or a black Supreme Court justice.
Of course you can be anti-feminist if you are any of those things too; especially a vice presidential candidate or a Supreme Court justice.
In fact, we have a vice presidential candidate who’s got some defining of his own to do. Allegedly Sen. Joe Biden got the nod from Barack Obama because he’s good on foreign affairs. Even the Washington Post compared Obama’s choice of Biden to Bush’s pick of Cheney because of their global perspective.
That’s damning with faint praise.
But for all of Biden’s foreign affairs credentials, he’s most memorable for being the guy who, as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, gave the pass to Clarence Thomas to sit on the Supreme Court.
Thomas had been accused by his colleague Anita Hill of speaking inappropriately and sexually harassing her. Imagine if he had instead been sexually inappropriate in his speech to a man. If a man had come forward and said that Thomas’ discussion of porn disrupted the workplace, that would have caused a much bigger stir. The likely dismissal of his Supreme Court appointment probably would have resulted from the public’s homophobia rather than Thomas’ lack of professionalism. See, even though Thomas would rule on cases that directly affect women and their rights, Hill’s concerns had no real impact. Certainly the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t care if his speech marginalized women.
It’s ironic that the first presidential election cycle with a woman spetoriously close to being a major party nominee resulted in a vice presidential candidate that easily dismisses the respectful treatment of women.
And now I have another word for my dictionary: biden. I’ll use it in a sentence. Feminists should get used to “biden” their tongues.