(From the blog archives; originally posted on Dec. 25, 2006.)
Anticipointment: High expectations followed by a letdown. A portmanteau of “anticipation” and “disappointment.”
According to legend, the word was coined in the 1960s by a Los Angeles ad agency that used it as the punchline of a holiday card whose outside read, in paraphrase: “At this time of year, just one word sums up the feeling in all of our hearts.” Now used for any instance of media or technology hype.
(I read the ad-agency story years ago and have been unable to corroborate it. Anyone?)
UPDATE, Dec. 19, 2011: Anticipointment is my favorite invented word of all time, so you can imagine my pleasure at discovering that my 2006 definition has been enshrined in PseudoDictionary. Thank you, Mark Allen, for submitting it! I’m flattered.
In other updating news:
The earliest citation for anticipointment documented by Word Spy is dated June 6, 1988:
When launching a new news anchor, experts offer one golden rule — a don’t. “You should never promise,” says Bob Casazza, vice president for marketing at Washington's WJLA-TV. “Let the audience pass judgment for itself.
“If you try too hard to force a perception through the use of promotion, there may be a backlash.”
Consultant Frank Magid, of Marion, Iowa-based Frank N. Magid Associates, says his company has its own term for it: “Our vice president for research calls it ‘anticipointment.’ Stations have overpromised in introductions to the point that the expectation is never lived up to.”
—Eric Mankin, “A few rules on how to launch a news anchor,” Electronic Media
Radio host Mike Malloy also claims to have invented the word “years ago.” Malloy wrote in May of this year:
Ol’ Harold Camping, the 89-year-old fundamentalist Christian and founder of Family Radio who predicted the apocalypse, said he was “flabbergasted” that he was, indeed, still in this mortal coil. Many of his followers experienced severe “anticipointment,” especially the ones who burned through their life savings in anticipation of armageddon.
I still think there’s an ad-agency origin story in there somewhere. Help me, Intertubes!