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October 23, 2006


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This is a great one, Nancy. Both origins make perfectly good sense but the collision of the two should have been foreseen.

The Web has made everyone with a computer a publisher and this has unleashed a sunami of lexical creativity. We are being inundated by neologisms from all sides and the easiest neologism to create is a "blend", two words just smushed together under the assumptions that the meanings will successfully smush, too.

We should remember, however, as we smush words together, that the English lexicon is already overflowing with words and there is a high likelihood that someone else has thought of the word before. In this case the original was not a blend but the verb "p****e" sounds like (one of your six-letter 4-letter words).

The lesson here is to always check the potential history of your neologism before publishing it--especially if it sounds like, shall we say, a word of restricted usage (taboo). This word was used in its original sense in the Sunday Times as late as 2003 according to the OED so it is not a rarity. It is used mostly in Britain and Australia but it is, as you point out, Nancy, long established in the English vocabulary.

Great word and one that I can use nearly every day.

When others are "pizzled" I have often reminded them of what I remind myself.

If it involves people, it doesn't have to make sense."

I think Mr. Twain would say that there's lightning in "pizzle"!

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