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In Need of Neologisms March 8, 2015

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Brain Glitches, Questions.
Tags: , , , ,

How many words are there in the English Language? The OED has over 600,000 words defined, so that’s a good approximation.  You’d think that would be enough, but so often lately I can’t find exactly the word that I need to express a specific idea.

In recent years I’ve learned some really good new words from my readings:

Patternicity – the human tendency to see patterns in random data.

Pareidolia – the tendency to see familiar images, especially faces, in random images.

Agenticity – the tendency to attribute anything that happens to the actions of an intentional agent.

Deepity – a saying that sounds deep at first, but really isn’t.

Groupishness – the tendency to root for members of your own group, and against outsiders, even in a randomly selected grouping.

and of course –

Meme – an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.

But there are words that I’m looking for, and can’t find.  Perhaps they exist and I just haven’t heard them yet.  And perhaps they need someone to coin them.  A new term, like the words above, should preferably be simple and yet evoke the basic ideas of the concept in the word itself.

So here’s some of the ideas that I’m wanting a word for.  I’ve mentioned some of them in previous posts, but I want to collect them all in one place:

  • A replacement for spiritual that does not have any connotations of belief in the supernatural.  It should mean “filled with awe and fascination at the immensity of the universe and filled with appreciation to be a part of it.”  I’d use it this way: “You know how some people say ‘I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual’?  Well I’m not spiritual.  But I am ________.”  I want a really good word here, one where the word itself conveys the idea without having to use a lot of further explanation.  And I want a work that hasn’t already been hijacked by the newage woo-woo pushers.
  • A term for that thing that you do that is personally very demanding of your time or money or effort, and is basically pointless in itself, but you are doing it to be accepted and trusted by another individual or group as a person who is loyal and committed.  The word could either be a noun to describe the thing that is done, or a verb to describe doing it.  Examples of this kind of thing could be Mormon missions, gang tattoos, snake handling, or giving expensive engagement rings.  I went to a talk from Andy Thomson recently, and he called this “hard to fake, costly, honest signals of commitment.”  That term captures the meaning, but there’s got to be a shorter catchier way to say it.
  • A term for the tendency of people to need to mark their “turf” with visible signs that their group holds dominance. Things like gang tags, or christians putting the ten commandments on courthouse lawns or “in god we trust” on money.
  • And, referencing my last post, here, a term for the confusion between a mental model of a thing and the thing itself. 

Success!  While I was working on this blog post, for the last item I happened upon the very word I’ve been looking for.  It’s the Reification Fallacy, or the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness.  I like the word “reification”, because it comes from the Latin roots “res” meaning “thing” and “facere” meaning “make” or “do”.  So it’s the fallacy of making a thing out of something that is not actually a thing.  That’s exactly the kind of word I was wanting.  Any ideas on the others?



1. Daniel Digby - March 8, 2015

It’s funny that you should mention marking, as in an animal marking a territory with its scent gland or urine. “Marking” is exactly the word that I use because of that visual image juxtaposed on court-house ten commandments or “in god we trust”. But you’re right; we really do need something specific so that other people understand our meaning.

Liked by 2 people

2. Daz - March 8, 2015

How about…

For non-woo-woo spiritualism: nature-struck.

For the time-wasting thingamabob: cliquism.

For turf-marking: Lamp-posting.


ubi dubium - March 8, 2015

Nature-struck is pretty good!

I don’t think cliquism quite fits for the hard-to-fake expensive commitment marker. I want a word that will not only cover religious craziness, but also things like buying your partner an expensive engagement ring.

Lamp-posting, as in a dog peeing on the lamp post to mark it? Maybe “fire-hydranting” then? Or did you have a different reference in mind?


Daz - March 9, 2015

Yeah, the dog-peeing sense is what I meant. We don’t have above-ground hydrants, so that image never occurred to me. But siriusbizinus’s turfmongering is way better anyway.


3. M.M.J. Gregory - March 8, 2015

I humbly suggest my own word for your spiritual problem: wonderlust. I am a wonderluster. Bit clunky as a noun, I admit.

I feel like the second one should be rooted in hazing or groupthink and symbolism. Cliqact? Like clique action?

I agree marking seems to cover the idea of number three. Perhaps social marking to differentiate it from peeing dogs?

This was fun. 🙂


ubi dubium - March 8, 2015

Hmmm. Wonderlust. I guess being a wonderluster is better than being “wonderlustful”, that might give entirely the wrong impression! Perhaps combining it with the suggestion above gives “wonderstruck”, and that’s not bad either.

Liked by 1 person

M.M.J. Gregory - March 8, 2015

I like it!


4. siriusbizinus - March 9, 2015

Here are my humble offerings:

1)Saganacious (named after the scientist). My saganacity is illustrated by my abject awe at the infinite Universe. Though really, wonderlust works great too. Maybe they could be friendly synonyms or something.

2) Scaremitment (pronounced like scare and commitment). Joy and Larry are completely scaremitted to the cause. Not only did they give up their $50 million estate to the Grand Poobah, they even severed all their ties with family and friends.

3) Turfmongering. The local church was so dedicated to turfmongering that they put “In God We Trust” on the local Satanists’ meeting hall.

Liked by 1 person

makagutu - March 9, 2015

hahaha. I like

Liked by 1 person

5. Steve Morris - March 9, 2015

Turfmongering sounds like a good word.


6. Mixed Metaphors | The Infrequent Atheist - March 10, 2015

[…] last, we get to the second blog that sent me on my path of inspiration.  It was by Ubi Dubium.  Ubi is looking for words that fulfill specific niches for orphaned ideas.  The one that […]


7. cag - March 10, 2015




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