Vox pop — December 2010

‘Do you have an adjective better than merry for Christmas?’

John Simmons ‘Uneventful’ would suit me fine. After my soap opera life of the last two months, I can wish myself and family nothing better than ‘Have an uneventful Christmas’. I look forward to it.

Roger Horberry
It’s tempting to write something misanthropic like ‘wretched’, so I will.

Fiona Thompson
Curmudgeons could have an ‘annual’ Christmas while, generally, ‘emotional’ seems pretty apt.

Rowena Forbes

Jim Davies
Given the state of the weather, you might try ‘warm’. Given the state of the world, you might try ‘peaceful’.

Shano Cotechini
Here are 26 jocular, bordering on unceremonious, potentially infelicitous words you might use. It is assumed that one is unlikely to utter any of these sober. Included with each word, therefore, is an alcoholised by verbosity (AVB) rating. On a scale of 1 to 10, the ABV rating describes how difficult the pronunciation of the word is likely to be while one is under the influence of their favourite Christmas tipple.

Abliguritive (from abligurition, spending in excessive indulgence, but with a twist). What could be better than to wish someone an intemperate visit to their bar of choice to pre-anaesthe — to prepare the mind for the onslaught of pointless office dos, mandatory family visits and insane present-shopping they are likely to endure? (Alcoholised by verbosity rating: 7 out of 10. Say this under the influence and you are more than likely to pronounce ‘liquor’ or ‘curative’ than the word proper. No matter! The more juice the better!)

Brimborious (from brimborion, sadly nothing to do with filling drinks to the brim, but rather something useless or nonsensical). An appropriate well-wishing for an uncle, whose gifts every year would be more useful if only he put a tad more thought and money into their selection and purchase. (ABV: 5/10. But don’t get too pie-eyed when uttering this, lest you risk sharing your pie involuntarily — explosively pronounced Bs can have a volatile effect on one’s stomach in certain situations.)

Cathisophobic (from cathisophobia, a fear of sitting). An adequate wish not just to anyone who has a requisite fear of sitting at the Christmas dinner table with family, nailed to a chair for hours and hours on end in tortuous enervation; but an understandable fear of sitting anywhere, sometimes in a cafe or on the nearest available park bench, with neighbours, ex colleagues or erstwhile friends whom you would rather avoid at all costs but whose untimely appearance you must indulge if you are to continue to avoid them in the New Year. (ABV: 7/10. When you are well and truly soaked, pronounce this word with caution: you don’t want people to think you are drowning or choking.)

Decidophobic (from decidophobia, a fear of making decisions). This malediction is meet for those who are just too spanking well organised for their own good and who like to have everything picked out, bought and wrapped well before the Regent Street Christmas lights come on. Utter this with the hope that the presents they end up buying, after much brain-wracking, ultimately come from one of three categories — useless apparel, Boots three-for-two offers or ‘last minute’ — where two in 10 gifts are statistically guaranteed to be broken by the New Year. (Pickled tickle rating: 6/10. Be sure you are well oiled when you attempt this slur, you don’t want to stutter that opening D-d-d-d . . . )

Engastrative (from engastration, the stuffing of one bird into another). Not everyone who flies the nest has one homing instinct and one only at Christmas time. For instance, when you know someone’s parents are separated and have repartnered and that person will be forced to eat Christmas dinner at each parent’s, and possibly at each partner’s parents, in succession — use this! (Pickled tickle rating: 5/10. But you want to be sure you get the whole word out when you are gassed: you don’t want anyone to hear ‘gastrative’, think you have dyspepsia, offer you a laxative and kill the buzz.)

Flexiloquent (from flexiloquence, speaking ambiguously). Yes! Wishing that everyone is well and truly looped and having a smashing good time! (ABV: 8/10. This will more than likely sound unintelligible to human, or mammalian ears in general if you are snockered. A word of C: ah, see you don’t bend that last, hard ‘quent’ too much out of shape, hey . . . )

Gambrinous (being full of beer). Every man’s subconscious Christmas wish of choice! Also a great word to use in combination with any of the other words here, e.g. “Have a gambrinously decidophobic Christmas!” (ABV: 3/10. Not syllabically harder than Heineken, as pronounceable as Kronenbourg and goes in and comes out as easily as London Pride.)

Hyperhedonic (from hyperhedonia, an excessive pleasure caused by boring tasks). The perfect well-wishing for anyone who peps up at the prospect of wrapping presents or shopping for food or writing Christmas cards or untangling last year’s Christmas lights or hunting down and finding last year’s Christmas lights or hosting in-laws, but curiously who hasn’t an imperative need for overproof alcohol to help her through any of it. (ABV: 6/10. Try not to think of the fact that you will look cockeyed when you utter this. Just don’t get stuck on the opening ‘hi’ when you do — you are more likely to estrange yourself from, than make new friends.)

Intrapreneurial (from intrapreneur, one not bound by company rules, policies or expenditures, and consequently free to better its products, services or offerings). An ingeniously coercive thing to wish anyone tasked with setting the budget and location for this year’s staff Christmas do . . . (ABV: 7/10. Ingenious it may be: but can you be certain you will be able to pick out the syllables when you are industriously pixilated?)

Jalouse (best pronounced ja’LOOSE, to be jealous of or grudge). An appropriate thing to wish someone who is incapable of refraining from obnoxious boasting about the extravagant Christmas event she is planning to have with friends or for her loved ones. The conceit lies in sounding like you are envious as opposed to sounding like you are auguring her a grudging festive season. (ABV: 2/10. An easy one to jump on. When you’re hopped up in the presence of well-to-do, law-abiding citizens, however, some circumspection is called for: you don’t want to say ‘jailhouse’ and give them any ideas.)

Katabasic (from katabasis, a military retreat). This year’s seasonal safeword! Before you go to your girlfriend’s parents for the mandatory yearly stopover that inevitably turns into an ambush, agree you’ll use it at an opportune moment, at which time she can extricate you both from the situation with tactical precision. (ABV: 4/10. It is imperative that you be sauced when you use it, but don’t garble it: “Gotta’basic Christmas!” could belie your sincerity and insult the lavish spread that was put out in your honour to boot.)

Logomaniacal (from logomaniac, a person crazy about words). The obligatory “26” well-wishing! (ABV: 8/10. You would expect this word to come without a caveat, but when you’re half-cut, especially among logophiles, it can ill behove you to wish one a ‘maniacal’ Christmas.)

Macromantic (from macromancy, divination by studying the largest object in the area). Every man, woman and child does this when sizing up their gifts under the tree so you might as well wish it! (ABV: 1/10. No problem here. In fact, get this wrong by all means! When you are besotted — even if your partner may not be so besotted as you are — she or he is bound to appreciate hearing you wish them a ‘romantic’ Christmas.)

Neotenic (from neoteny, a state or retention of prolonged immaturity). This is also universally suitable, as Christmas is known to bring out the child in everyone. (ABV: 6/10. If you are shickered, now is not the time for malapropisms — don’t spoil it by wishing someone a “Satanic” Christmas.)

Ombibulant (from ombibulus, drinking everything). Not so preponderant in men (who are less prone to mixing their festive drinks), but neither a fallacious wish for the fairer sex. (ABV: 5/10. Ideally it would be good to wish this on someone you fancy: when you’re blathered, you’ll sound like you’re going gaga over them as you b-b-babble through those b-b-bs. Just remember to smile coyly at some point, and don’t drool.)

Pismiric (from pismirism, the stockpiling of seemingly insignificant things, like the hoarding of copper to ensure that one will have money enough to buy one more drink at last orders, or to ensure that the sight of so much change will inspire pity in another who will buy one a drink before last orders). This too is a universal wishing as these are austere times! (ABV: 7/10. Warning: if you are tanked, anyone sober hearing this will probably hear ‘piss’ and flash you a look of apprehension. On the other hand, if they’re on their way to being canned too, they will either appreciate the validation or be grateful you have reminded them to spend a penny.)

Quagswag (nothing to do with a footballer’s wife who has been turfed off her mansion and forced back into the bog whence she came, but rather to shake it up!). Clearly something you’d wish a cocktail maker, mover and shaker, Scrabble-word-picker or lap dancer. But this also comes in handy when you want to wish someone well who is in dire need of a life change you cannot supply, viz. a more fulfilling job, a more interesting social life, a more captivating hobby, a happier taste in music, a less stultifying marital status, etc. (ABV: 3/10. A curiosity: say it fast three times when you’re woozy, then try adding ‘Christmas’ — bet you say ‘Kwissmus’. )

Resistential (from resistentialism, the spiteful, hostile or disobedient behaviour of inanimate objects towards human beings). What should you wish the person who already has every contrivance, gizmo and widget in gadgetdom — and almost always before everybody else? Equally, you might wish this on a dictatorial boss who has lots of kids to buy for, the suggestion being that she or he will get no end of trouble from an uncooperative bestrewal of toys and baubles. (Pickled tickle rating: 7/10. When wrecked, you may find it impossible to say anything but ‘residential’, which is innocuous. No matter! You’ll be thinking “resistential” and it’s the unceremonious thought that counts here!)

Sanguinivorous (blood sucking). A step into the dark side, you think? When you are trapped in the cold, sleety, slushy, salty streets of a grey, snow-draped London, what should you wish someone who is going away to bask in the balm of Antipodean light or bathe their foreheads in tropical sunshine? (ABV: 6/10. Say this when you are sozzled, however, and there is every chance you will only manage to say “sanguine”. Which will sound like good ol’ fashioned cheery optimism — and there’s nothing wrong with that, right?)

Threpterophilic (from threpterophilia, an attraction to female nurses). The holidays don’t bring everybody home! What do you wish a friend or loved one who has to spend noel in hospital with broken bones and low morale all thanks to a hapless skiing accident? (ABV: 8/10. There’s no denying you’ll have a tough time articulating this one when you’re smashed. Never mind! Think of what your friend with his broken bones is having to endure, while you are but smashed in spirits only!)

Unasinous (equally stupid or asinine). When you don’t have the time to wish separate good tidings to members of a large group, whose individual Christmas goings-on appear to be similarly absurd (say, their shared belief in mindless spending); or when you believe you might be able to encourage others to come round to your way of thinking (say, your belief in a winter festival, replete with vats of mulled wine, as an effective way of dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder); then use this word! (ABV: 4/10. Not hard in and of itself to say, it’s just that you’ll want to mask the obvious as much as possible. When you are blotto, you won’t want to throw the words “ass in us” in someone’s face. But think positive! Who’s to say you won’t chance on ‘unanimous’ — no harm there!)

Ventripotent (possessing a fat belly). You know that one person in the office, maybe even in the family, who talks about how she/he, like, eats so much and, like, has to go to the gym, like, three times a day to — oh my God! — like loose that paunch? When she/he doesn’t know that ‘crunch’ has something to do with actually masticating one’s food for the purpose of deglutition? Stop the insanity, get yours back! Wish her/him/it an ample, stout, big-boned, well-upholstered, fat-bellied holiday once and for all! (ABV: 0/10. You won’t get this one wrong, no matter how hee-hawing, banjaxed or gutter-mouthed you become. (Want to throw a curve? Emphasise the ‘potent’ — but it’s not necessary.)

Wegoistical (the practice, thinking or ethic that treats collective interest as the foundation to a good Yule). Wish it to the sod who doesn’t know how lucky he/she is to have the few friends he/she does have. (ABV: 2/10. Whittled as a penguin or not, you only have one thing to worry about when using this term: erroneously according the well-wished friends she or he doesn’t have any. In which case, you may have to fill in — or worse: bring them back to yours — so be careful.)

Xerophytic (able to withstand droughts). Some people, no matter how bounteous the time of year, simply drink too fast for their own good or for the pockets of others with them. These people have a serious problem and need all the support they can get. Wish them the fortitude to make it through the dry spell. (ABV: 4/10. You may be as zippered as one of Jacko’s leather jackets when you do, but it will be nigh impossible to avoid pronouncing the “zero” in this — be sensitive: no one wants to hear they have been wished nothing for Christmas.)

Yonderly (absent-minded). Honestly, someone who bezzles until their very teeth catch a cold — there’s no telling what they will have said to people in their company. This goes out to such inebriate chatterboxes, who promise god-knows-what or say the most umpardonable things imaginable and have to live it all down the next day. In fact, nothing short of amnesia will help them. Wish it to them! (ABV: 0/10. Even if you’re Brahms and Liszt, it’ll be ham’n’cheesy to share this dicky bird.)

Zymogenic (causing fermentation). If you know anyone who will be making their own moonshine this Christmas, this is the merriment to throw their way as it may bring something back your way… Say it with relish! (ABV: 10/10. No one remembers z-words when zigzagged or zoned out. Moral? Get to these people well before you hit the bottle.)

  1. This is the ex-conscience of Shano speaking…

    I repeat: this is Shano’s ex-conscience…

    Many of you who have risked reading his post will have noticed a few solecisms. Excluding, of course, the post itself. (Which, in the attitude of its author, I might term “a duncicalism of metagrobolising proportions” — but never mind that, as it is no longer my privilege to do, being an ex-consicence and all…)

    Anyway, I am talking about things…

    …like the incorrectly abbreviated “(AVB)” in the opening para, which should be “(ABV)”…

    …or like the inexplicable (if I’m honest, vestigial) “Pickled tickle rating” — which should be “ABV” — appearing under decidophobic, engastrative and resistential…

    …or like the superfluous use of “and finding” in “hunting down and finding last year’s Christmas lights” under hyperhedonic…

    …or like the missing punchline in sanguinivorous — which should have been: “Mozzie bites, that’s what!” — before the ABV rating…

    …or like the many other errata that pepper the text — the adscititious “(” in ventripotent, the incorrect “any” in “friends she or he doesn’t have [any]” in wegoistical, and so on.

    In short, I can’t properly apologise for any of it but merely point out the obvious with the hope that Karma will smile down on me and do me a good turn after my having abandoned the author mid-composition and during submission.

    That is all. Thank you.*

    The ex-conscicence of Shano

    * If you think this is a ruse, that I am merely posing as an ex-conscience so that I might sneak in corrections to assuage the guilt of a silly man, let me stop you there. I am homeless! Check it out for yourself: http://www.theconscienceofshano.com...

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