Let’s play around with the language—just for fun!

By Ron Cooper
The Word Doctor

You don’t need to be a wordsmith to love word play.

Every year, the Washington Post asks its readers to redefine words to comic effect. The newspaper’s word-repurposing contest generates some doozies.

Let your funny bone decide your favorite:

1. Abdicate (v.) to give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
2. Lymph (v.) to walk with a lisp.
3. Coffee (n.) a person who is coughed upon.
4. Flatulence (n.) the emergency vehicle that picks you up after you are run over by a steamroller.
5. Frisbeetarianism (n.) the belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
6. Reintarnation (n.) coming back to life as a hillbilly.

I am tickled pink we haven’t lost our sense of humor. With a jobless recovery, wars without end and pain at the pump, we have lots of reasons to frown. But we still need to laugh, and one sure way is to play around with our language.

The Washington Post asked its readers to alter a word by adding, subtracting or changing one letter. Then they were to supply a new definition. Judge for yourself that cleverness is not yet dead:

1. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the reader who doesn’t get it.
2. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously.
3. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very high.
4. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a refund from the IRS, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

Smiling yet?

One of best places to find a chuckle for language gone sideways is in newspaper headlines. You wonder how some passed muster on their way to the newsstand. But they do slip through the cracks. Six examples:

1. Include Your Children When Baking Cookies
2. Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
3. Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
4. Stolen Painting Found by Tree
5. Typhoon Rips through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
6. Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years at Checkout Counter

Take that last example. Don’t know about you, but I might wait for my sibling at the checkout counter for 18 minutes. But 18 years?

About Administrator

Ron was an award-winning newspaper journalist during his 25-year career. He worked for community and business publications, including Business First of Louisville. Ron has written more than 5,000 articles for newspapers and magazines. He has ghost-written books and articles for business professionals. Ron has worked as a freelance writer, writing coach and media consultant for the past 13 years. His clients have included corporate and non-profit organizations.
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