Friday, March 02, 2007

Language - Did I Just Say That Out Loud?

There are words or expressions for just about everything in the human experience. The beauty of English is that if we haven't got it, we steal it from another language and make it our own. That's one reason why English is considered the most precise language in existence. Some examples:

  • NULLIBIST n. One who denies the existence of the soul in space.
  • PROSOPOPEIA n. A rhetorical introduction of an imagined speaker. "If this bed could talk ..."
  • DISCISSION n. Sticking a needle in the eye.
  • DEFENESTRATE v. To throw a person through a window.
  • HORRESCO REFERENS n. Exhibiting horror from a memory.
  • OMPHALOSKEPSIS n. Contemplation of one's navel.
  • GYNOTIKOLOBOMASSOPHILE n. Someone who likes to nibble on a woman's earlobe.
But there is one sensation that I have never been able to find a word for:

That embarrassed feeling one has when uncertain if they have just spoken a thought out loud, usually while deep in thought in a public space

I once thought that it was something unique to me, just a quirk of personality, or a side-effect from past experimentation with LSD. But I've discovered through various conversations that it's a feeling quite common among people. Yet, nobody has a word for it.

Over the years, when the curiosity has returned from a long absence, I've sent the occasional email to a language expert, searched reverse dictionaries, and when all that failed, I even tried to construct it from word stems. Here are some of my efforts:

  • proloquor dubium
  • erubescundus in oratorius ambiguito
  • verecundor in quam oratorio
  • andabatic excogitation
  • uncertain mental encopresis
  • deja logorrhea malnoia
  • possible schizophrenia
  • fucking nuts

I'll say right off the bat that my Latin sucks. Probably the grammatical constructions above are way off. Still, I like the sound of proloquor dubium. Andabatic excogitation is okay as well. But uncertain mental encopresis has an expressive quality that endears. Encopresis means, "unintentional defecation." Nice.

I'd like to make this post a call to arms for any wordsmiths or etymologists out there who might take a jab at this. Does the concept I'm describing already exist in speech? Is there a better way of describing it than what I've attempted above? By all means, please share. Let's make history together. If Dan Savage can create a neoligism for santorum, we can fill an equally important gap in the language. Make it happen, cap'ns.


Matt Elmore said...

There have been some great suggestions so far at Nancy Freedman's Away With Words blog. Here are some of them:

As this phenomenon seems to be one of those "interesting" perks of advancing age, perhaps we could call it geriatrologamnesia.

Posted by: Nancy

In college, we used to describe the condition under which such remarks were made by saying, "Whoa, my self-monitoring systems are down."

So, I guess I'd suggest "downed-self-monitorism".

Or perhaps "cryptologophobia", i.e., fear of mysterious comments. However, that condition would also apply to fearing the mysterious comments of others. Maybe autocryptologophobia?

Posted by: Mark Gunnion

The word is pedorophobia:
ped = foot; oro = mouth; phobia = fear

Posted by: Tim Hicks

Matt Elmore said...

Rotten Luck!

A lot of people are reporting problems posting comments. Turns out it's a Blogger issue. Typical. The one time I make an effort to generate a lot of comments on my blog and Blogger has some kind of monkey wrench in the system.

Here's what they have to say about the problem:

Blogger Status
Friday, March 02, 2007

We’re looking into reports of “word verification” images (i.e. CAPTCHAs) not appearing on, for example, the comments page. If you come across a missing word verification image, the best workaround is to leave the answer field blank and submit your comment anyway. The page will reload — preserving your comment — with a new image that you can then solve and re-submit your comment.

dave said...


Michael J. Sheehan said...


Michael J. Sheehan said...