Archive for the ‘Libfixes’ Category


March 1, 2017

One more item from my blog backlog, this one starting with a January 2nd op-ed column in the NYT by Paul Krugman, “America Becomes a Stan”, which began:

In 2015 the city of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, was graced with a new public monument: a giant gold-plated sculpture portraying the country’s president on horseback. This may strike you as a bit excessive. But cults of personality are actually the norm in the “stans,” the Central Asian countries that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union, all of which are ruled by strongmen who surround themselves with tiny cliques of wealthy crony capitalists.

Americans used to find the antics of these regimes, with their tinpot dictators, funny. But who’s laughing now?

We are, after all, about to [remember that this was published on January 2nd] hand over power to a man who has spent his whole adult life trying to build a cult of personality around himself; remember, his “charitable” foundation spent a lot of money buying a six-foot portrait of its founder. Meanwhile, one look at his Twitter account is enough to show that victory has done nothing to slake his thirst for ego gratification. So we can expect lots of self-aggrandizement once he’s in office. I don’t think it will go as far as gold-plated statues, but really, who knows?

I don’t mean to slight the social and political message here — that our country risks becoming a gold-plated failed-state autocracy — but this posting is mostly about the linguistic point, the appearance of the independent word stan, extracted from English names of regions and political entities with the libfix -(i/y)stan, originally an element in such names in other languages but now available for forming new names in English.


The carniguin

January 5, 2017

On Facebook, this came from Michael Palmer, who got it from Seth Andrew. (As with many such things, the creators of the image and the text are not identified.)


Briefly: early libfixology

November 20, 2016

Back to the 1940s. Ben Zimmer writes to report that going through back issues of American Speech, he came across a couple of articles discussing what we would now call “libfixes”; Harold Wentworth called them “neo-pseudo-suffixes”:

Harold Wentworth, “The Neo-Pseudo-Suffix ‘-eroo'”, American Speech, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Feb., 1942), pp. 10-15 (link)

Dwight L. Bolinger, “Among the New Words”, American Speech, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Dec., 1943), pp. 301-305 (link):

Long lists have been compiled of words formed out of what Harold Wentworth calls neo-pseudo-suffixes. ANW has commented on a number of these, including –cast, -burger, -legger, -aroo, and others. How deeply the habit of dissecting words in American English may be seen perhaps better, however, in those suffixes of which there are but a few scattered examples and which have yet to become popular. Herewith are listed a number of them, which also meet the condition of not being independent words used in some nonce-combination (such as busting or fest).

Only two items on the list have survived: from icicle, Popsicle; from photogenic, telegenic.

think of the Xs

April 19, 2016

Start with my 3/31 posting “A kitten-killing God?”, where I looked at a slogan (and caption for an image), with the crucial part bold-faced:

Every time you masturbate, God kills a kitten. Please think of the kittens.

A formulaic pattern Please think of the Xs (with minor variants: Think of the Xs!, Won’t someone (please) think of the Xs?, Won’t anyone think of the Xs? What about the Xs?) — some sort of snowclone, call it Think Of The Xs, exhorting the addressee to stop some activity, on the grounds that it does some damage to the Xs or sets a bad example for the Xs. Nancy’s comment on this posting of mine:

Not wank-related, but “Catmageddon,” the new anti-smoking ad campaign from Truth, makes the following equation: “SMOKING = NO CATS = NO CAT VIDEOS.” Think of the cats!



April 9, 2016

Today’s Zippy takes us to Billy’s Burg-O-Rama in Oxford MA.


The strip is “about” politics (insofar as a Zippy is “about” anything), but this posting is about the libfix -((o/a)r)ama ‘display, spectacle, something really major’. And about food, starting with burgers (and clams and fish & chips).


Annals of naming (and lexical semantics and libfixes)

March 22, 2016

Today’s Zippy wanders across a surreal landscape, with at least two items of linguistic interest: the name of the character Premium Cruiseline (with its modifying noun premium) and the form poodle-napping (with the libfix -nap):

These ingredients, in order:



March 14, 2016

A comment from Victor Steinbok on my “Flagging Marcomentum” posting of yesterday, in which I noted a recent use of Marcomentum by Republican primary candidate Marco Rubio:

It’s a bit late to the party. X-mentum has been floating around for at least 6 years, much of it sarcastic (mitt-mentum four years ago).

To which I replied:

Well, I never said it was new; I said it was new to me. But then I’m very much not a fan of inside discussions of political campaigns.

That is, the -mentum libfix (which has not been reported in this blog) comes from a world I don’t know a lot about, but it turned up in more general reporting, so it was notable to me.

I was ignorant of the libfix. The question is whether I should have known about it; if so, then I should at least have apologized for my ignorance, and possibly I should now go back and delete the posting as of no significance to anyone but me.



June 20, 2015

And the libfixes pour in. From Joel Berson on ADS-L yesterday, a report of ashvalanche ‘avalanche of ash’ (for two types of ash, with avalanche understood metaphorically). And that leads to plenty more examples of X-valanche.



May 26, 2015

Five years ago I took note of the Teapartyganza segments on Jon Stewart’s Daily Show in 2010 (there’s a set of videos of the shows here). At the time, I took the name to be a one-off playful portmanteau (Tea Party + extravaganza), so I didn’t post about it; if I tried to take note of every portmanteau that comes past me, I’d go nuts.

Then in 2014, Eleganza came past me in a Zippy: Eleganza Fashions, a business that still seems to be going, So then there were two.

This morning, I stumbled upon my Teapartyganza note and thought to check on –ganza nouns. Oh my, it’s clearly gone the familiar route from portmanteau element to libfix (conveying, roughly, ‘an event of considerable size, scope, or complexity’): a Libfix-A-Ganza, to use one of the spellings that’s become customary in these situations.


A panderthon

May 22, 2015

The cover of the June 2015 Funny Times, by Matt Wuerker:

What caught my eye was panderthon, (roughly) ‘an interminable occasion of pandering’, with the libfix -(a)thon. The word is especially associated with political pandering, as here.