Archive for the ‘Word attraction’ Category

Zerbina and Zippy sling trochaic tetrameter

July 26, 2023

In today’s Zippy strip, Zerbina and Zippy indulge their onomatomania — a love of certain expressions that leads the affected person to chant them over and over for pleasure — by slinging competing (trochaic tetrameter) product names at one another competitively, before falling passionately into one another’s arms:


bibulous (paper towels and sots)

June 1, 2023

🐇 🐇 🐇 rabbit rabbit rabbit for the 1st of June (ushering in the summer months — and Pride Month, for which even the rabbits go gay: 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈 🏳️‍🌈)

Today’s amuse-gueule for the month is a Zippy strip (which has been hanging around on my desktop since it appeared in 10/14/19) in which the notoriously onomastomanic Zippy savors the word bibulous for the delights of its meaning a well as its pronunciation:

From NOAD: adj, bibulousformal excessively fond of drinking alcohol. ORIGIN late 17th century (in the sense ‘absorbent’): from Latin bibulus ‘freely or readily drinking’ (from bibere ‘to drink’) + –ous.

So we’ve got a specialization of drinking up to drinking alcohol; plus a metaphorical view of drinking up to refer to absorbency (paper towels drink up spills) — but the (older) ‘absorbent’ sense of bibulous is now obsolete. Never mind: Zippy loves it.

Oh yes, also from NOAD (with Zippy, but not with Griffy’s further specialization in the strip, which is not in anybody’s dictionary):

adj. verklempt: North American informal [AZ: in Yinglish] overcome with emotion: I found myself getting a little verklempt just thinking about it | he was standing at the top of the steps looking verklempt.

You can certainly be verklempt over the meanings of words, but it doesn’t follow that verklemt, the Yiddish English adjective, means ‘overcome with emotion about the meanings of words’; verklemt, the Yiddish English adjective, is (off the shelf) neutral, unspecified, uncommitted as to the cause of this extreme emotion, which could be any of an endless number of things. Once off the shelf, you can do all sorts of things with it.

The risonymic riff

January 24, 2023

From my mountainous posting queue, this gem of a risonymic riff:

(#1) Bodysnatch Cummerbund, Buffalo Custardbath, Bumblesnuff Crimpysnatch, Mr. Cabbagewank — four mockings, ridiculous manglings, of the already remarkable name Benedict Cumberbatch; otherwise, the first two paragraphs are an actual news item, accurate in its details, about the 2014 engagement of actor Benedict Cumberbatch to theatre director Sophie Hunter



June 21, 2022

Today’s morning name came to me not as I emerged from sleep, but as the first thing I saw on my computer: today’s Calvin and Hobbes blast from the past (from 6/23/92, summer time 30 years ago) with Hobbes in the grip of onomatomanic fascination with the word smock (warning: it’s catching):

(#1) Smick, smock, sweaty old jock … Well how was I to know there was a party going on? (1958 apologies to Bobby Darin, Murray the K, and Murray’s mother Jean Kaufman; their version is much cleaner)

Zippy the Pinhead is celebrated for his onomatomania, but anyone can play, even stuffed tigers.

The modern smock is a plain functional garment, a kind of protective overshirt (functionally akin to aprons, coveralls, and the like), associated with artists, who work with messy substances. But its history is more complex.



February 26, 2022

Another too-cold day, no going outside, because it hurts too much for me to breathe (that’s been a problem for 40-50 years, it’s why I moved from Ohio to California, but now it’s much worse because I have some chronic respiratory thing, all sinus and bronchial distress, that might be long Covid, or just my body giving up), so I bundled up at 4 a.m. — breakfast time — in my excellent blue velour bathrobe, sweetly worn, smelling a bit like me, warming to my body, pleasing to the touch, bearing the satisfying luxurious name velour. A delicious word. Velvety amour.

I mused on the word. And its fabric family: velour, velvet, velveteen, plush.


Zippo, the comic strip

March 25, 2021

The 3/14 Zippy strip shows Claude and Griffy (and eventually Zippy too) caught up in what seems to be affixoid attraction (similar to word attraction), an irrational appreciation of or enthusiasm for a particular word-part — in this case, the word-final element –o (whatever its source might be):

(#1) All of the panels except the fourth are framed as two-person exchanges, in which the second is a response to the first: offering a competing alternative (panel 1), trading insults (panels 2 and 3), or expressing appreciation (panel 5)


The risonym

October 16, 2020

E-mail today from Gadi Niram:

I seem to recall you coining the term “risonym”. What I can’t remember was whether a risonym made a person laugh because of its meaning or because of the speaker’s perception of the sound as funny. Can you refresh my memory?

I had no recollection of such a coining (though Gadi eventually resurrected a single use by me on Usenet 20 years ago — see below), but I tried to respond to the idea of words that are funny because of their sound.


More onomatomania

October 14, 2020

Today’s Zippy:


From NOAD:

noun dodecahedron: a three-dimensional shape having twelve plane faces, in particular a regular solid figure with twelve equal pentagonal faces.


goon squad goon squad goon squad

October 2, 2020

Somewhere in the first Presidential “debate”, or its immediate surrounding net discussion, the phrase goon squad appeared and seized my attention, so that I repeated it like a mantra. I was in the grip of onomatomania

Logo of the League of Legends South African esports team Goon Squad


At the onomatomania dinette

November 27, 2019

Today’s Zippy is set in the Ghent neighborhood of Norfolk VA of a few years back, in a Do-Nut Dinette — whose name throws Zippy into a fit of onomatomania (aka repetitive phrase disorder) compounded with Spooner’s affliction (compulsive exchange of word elements in phrases):


(Separately, there’s the use of dinette to refer to a diner, as a type of restaurant.)