Word to your mother: We have a winner

Judging from your entries in our "coin a new word" contest, last week you had two things on the brain: politics and Pluto. Quite a few of the entries were either partisan (right and left alike) or planetary, such as:

Plutonic relationship: A romantic relationship that has recently been downsized to "just friends."

Venus envy: Jealously of another celestial body's recognition as a planet. ("Pluto, recently having been downgraded, was suffering from a serious case of Venus envy when Neptune came to visit.")

We also liked several new words that seemed like signs of their times: ecotist (a person who believes s/he might be contributing to global warming but refuses to trade the Hummer for a Prius), mentorture (the experience of being assigned to a more senior associate to learn the ropes, only to find their primary skill is bitching about the company), wasbian (a woman who used to date women but no longer does), and explosure (what happens when a morbidly obese person wearing low-rise jeans bends over).

But our winner went for something timeless -- in fact, we had to Google it to make sure it didn't already exist. May we present:

Teratonym: A very big word. Comes from terato (greek, monster) + nym (name). Only existing way to say this until now was "sesquipedalian word," literally, a foot-and-a-half-long word. ex: That sociology journal is full of neologistic teratonyms; no wonder nobody can understand it.

Samuel Johnson (pictured above) would have approved, and as fans of both simple prose and all things Greek, so do we. Congratulations, Baehr! Send your contact info and shirt size to Everybody else: We'll announce our new contest later this afternoon...

A Very Brief History of Chamber Pots

Some of the oldest chamber pots found by archeologists have been discovered in ancient Greece, but portable toilets have come a long way since then. Whether referred to as "the Jordan" (possibly a reference to the river), "Oliver's Skull" (maybe a nod to Oliver Cromwell's perambulating cranium), or "the Looking Glass" (because doctors would examine urine for diagnosis), they were an essential fact of life in houses and on the road for centuries. In this video from the Wellcome Collection, Visitor Experience Assistant Rob Bidder discusses two 19th century chamber pots in the museum while offering a brief survey of the use of chamber pots in Britain (including why they were particularly useful in wartime).

A Tour of the New York Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room

The Rare Book Room at the New York Academy of Medicine documents the evolution of our medical knowledge. Its books and artifacts are as bizarre as they are fascinating. Read more here.


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