Literary critic Liesl Schillinger, one of a handful of people who writes regularly for The New York Times Book Review, is shopping a book based on Wordbirds, her tumblr blog of neologisms.
On the four-month-old blog, called “Wordbirds: A Lexicon for the 21st Century,” Ms. Schillinger offers readers newly minted words such as “Cancellelation” (“The joy felt by someone who frees up his schedule by canceling an appointment or reneging on a social plan”), “Etitext” (“the etiquette of text messaging”), and “Journaleering” (“activity of commentators on news programs and blogs who hold forth endlessly on the topics of the day”). Taken together, Wordbirds amounts to a whimsical reference guide in the style of Richard Hall’s Sniglets (“Any Word That Doesn’t Appear in the Dictionary, but Should“) and Douglas Adams and John Lloyd’s The Meaning of Liff (a “dictionary of things that there aren’t any words for yet.”)
Each word posted on Ms. Schillinger’s blog comes fully loaded with a definition, a pronunciation guide, an example of usage, and, for whatever reason, a photo of a bird or something bird-related.
Some other recent entries:
Graybird: N. ‘gray-burd A demure woman whose allure lies in her non-showy appearance, decorous behavior, and quiet demeanor. Usage: After dating a glamorous, hot-headed actress named Delilah for two years, Theo was exhausted. He married Jamie, the first graybird he met, within a month of the breakup.
Crockhead: N. ‘krok-hed One who wholeheartedly and obsessively orchestrates meal preparation at family gatherings and share houses. Usage: “Tabitha, why aren’t you coming with us to the beach?” “Can’t, I’ve got to stuff 4 dozen mushrooms for tapas.” “Don’t be a crockhead—it’s only 11 a.m. Join us!”
Zagattitude: N. za-‘gat-i-tood Mindset of one who always has a firm, vocal opinion on where, what and how to eat—informed by Zagats, Chowhound, and other foodie bibles. Usage: They all just wanted pizza, but Blake, flexing his Zagattitude, insisted they go to a pricey new tapas place he’d read about.
Ms. Schillinger started her career in New York as a fact-checker at The New Yorker before becoming a theater and dance editor there for Goings On About Town. She has been a regular contributor to The New York Times Book Review since 2004. “Wordbirds” will be her first book.
Ms. Schillinger declined to comment, and her literary agent, Zoe Pagnamenta, did not return calls.
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