Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Vocabulary Fun : MENSA Invitational


The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are some of the winners:

Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future

Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

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

Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

And the winners are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

6. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

7. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

8. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

9. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

10. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

11. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

12. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

13. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.


  1. Actually, there isn't any "Mensa Invitational," but The Washington Post does have a wonderfully clever humor contest called The Style Invitational. And two Invitational contests from 1998 are the sources of many of the neologisms in the list above. (But not all: For example, "decafalon" isn't a one-letter change from "decathlon," is it? Or "caterpallor"?)

    Much better to see the the current Invitational -- every week at We've had more than 600 contests since the ones above! The Style Invitational is published every Sunday in The Post's Style (features) section, and every Friday afternoon at about 3:30 Eastern time. The contests encompass a wide variety of humor genres, from cartoon captions to song parodies, but there are neologism contests regularly as well.

    In fact, our Jan. 23 contest is to move the first letter of a word to the end, and then define the new word. Examples: Ardiness -- The feeling of being cramped in a small space. Elved: Dug a North Pole hole.

    And here are some results for a recent contest for short notes from one famous person (or thing) to another:

    Dear Leonardo: Your fly is open. - Sincerely, Mona Lisa (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

    Dear President Lincoln: Please note change to "87" for conciseness. - Sincerely, Copy Editor (Beverley Sharp, Washington)

    Dear Rap: Who's your agent? - Sincerely, Poetry

    Dear Brain: Hope you enjoyed your nap. We were really busy while you were off duty! - Nether Parts (Beverley Sharp)

    Dear Fast-Food Customer: Maybe I'm just insecure, but I just always want you to want me. - Cheese on That (Brendan Beary, Great Mills, Md.)

    See the rest of the winners and learn how to enter the current contest at Or you can become a fan of "Washington Post Style" on Facebook (go to ) and you'll get a link to the Invitational when it's posted. I hope you become a regular reader and maybe even a regular entrant.

    Best, Pat Myers
    The Empress of The Style Invitational
    The Washington Post

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