Bruce Maiman

In the Spotlight: Were you as maloofed as the mayor?

Published: Sunday, Dec. 30, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 3E

What words might best sum up the past year in California and the nation?

Each year, wordsmiths and lexicographers issue pronouncements about words, phrases and coinages that somehow manage to gain fleeting iconic status. For instance, in this year's political season, old words became newly popular or acquired new meaning. Joe Biden's use of the word "malarkey" in his vice presidential debate with Paul Ryan last fall made people run to the dictionary. It was the most looked-up word of 2012, we're told. Etch-a-Sketch, meanwhile, went from being a classic toy to defining Mitt Romney's political campaign.

We created new words, like "frankenstorm," for blizzards of apocalyptic proportion. A news story wedged into our consciousness the phrase "fiscal cliff," jargon that managed to scare people without actually explaining what they should be scared of.

We often use words in useless ways, or in ways that should be confusing yet somehow make sense. Only in English can the same word mean opposite things and opposite words mean the same thing. We garnish food and garnish wages, yet our odds are no different in a chance that's fat or slim.

We don't always mean what we say or mean to be mean, but that can be a means to an end.

There's parking on driveways and driving on parkways, but also reciting at plays and playing at recitals. You can park your car or your attitude, and hope you don't scrape a fender or ruffle someone's feathers, or you could just go parking and make out in a secluded spot so no one can make out what you're doing or later ask, "How'd you make out?"

Quicksand works slowly. Boxing rings are square. And there's something slightly cruel about using "lisp" for people with a lisp, since people with a lisp can't correctly pronounce it.

So here now, some other words for 2012 the dictionarists, etymologists, glossarians, grammarians, linguists, vocabulists and other scribblers for hire hadn't considered:

Maloofing: Jerking someone's chain.

Maloofed: Realizing someone jerked your chain.

Pleasurus Prolongus: The endless and futile effort to keep the Kings in Sacramento, which somehow seemed like Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson's idea of a good time until he realized he was being maloofed.

Tone defecation: Lawmakers raising a stink about someone else's behavior who then get caught doing it themselves. See also: CSU and UC boards blaming California's fiscal crisis for increased tuitions while approving raises for university officials with already-hefty six-figure salaries.

Starbucked: Any lengthy name, hyphenated or otherwise, that's too complicated to say. If you have to practice saying a name, it should be changed to Smith.

Flotilla Interruptus: The uniquely Californian moment when a dozen cars moving at moderate speed on a major thoroughfare are forced to stop at an intersection after one car set off a sensor for a stoplight from a minor cross street.

Polititheists: People so deeply indoctrinated by their party's propaganda that they believe their party can never do wrong. See: Tea.

Cable Dramedy: Cable news dramatizing everything rather than actually reporting anything, proving itself a mostly barren source of amusement.

Pumpitician: A politician who stays in good physical shape and thinks we care. See: Anthony Weiner.

The China Monologues: The script used by people complaining that everything is made in China while on their way to Walmart where practically everything they buy is made in China.

Ostrichization: The process of denial by burying your head in the sand in the face of immutable fact.

Conspiratarian: Someone who believes statistical data are accurate when it favors their politics, but rejects those stats when it doesn't. Their movement is heavily supported by the aluminum foil industry.

Ideologarithm: The formula for calculating the ratio of political BS to reality. Rarely used by voters.

Transformatious: The vulgar, metamorphic pandering of politicians who are for something before they're against it, or against something before they're for it, making an already disputatious political discourse that much more vexatious. Source: Romneypedia, 2012 edition.

Intaxication: Euphoria Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers felt after Proposition 30 passed and they realized they'd have more money to waste.

Legitimate Rape: What taxpayers will endure while paying for Proposition 30's tax increase.

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