Making Language

I make up words all the time. Silly things like “farfoculation” – which I KNOW is original, because Google doesn’t have it (but then again, I guess it will now; wish I knew what it was supposed to mean) – but also useful words I continue to privately use.

Probably not because I’m all that creative, word-wise, but because I occasionally come up with a thinkable meaning but don’t always know the already-existing word that encapsulates it.

From my “The Fate of Broken People” post, several commenters have suggested possible new words for the “180 degrees opposite thing” I tried to describe.

It’s like this: You hear that something is a certain way, and you believe it, sometimes for years. But one day you discover that, out in the real world, the thing is exactly opposite the way you were told it was. It is 180 degrees opposite of what it should be. If it’s something that was right with the world, it is now wrong – so wrong it doesn’t just sit there being wrong, it moves at light speed in the direction of wrong, so that it becomes not just un-right, but anti-right.

But it could also be something that you thought was bad, but then find out is really, really good.

Mommiest and Athena suggested “epiphany” and several constructed alternate words based on it. Someone said German would have a word for it, a long one, and Leander came up with “Überzeugungsumkehrentdeckung (a discovery that inverts your opinion on something)”.

Based on their ideas, I settled tentatively on “antiphany.” It would sound like “antiphony” in use, though, so I wasn’t completely happy with it.

Turns out, though, I wasn’t the only person looking for a new word and finding antiphany.

The Pseudo Dictionary defines antiphany as “A sudden realization or revelation that is very stupid.”

A blogger named Kyle has it as:

an-ti-pha-ny n. 1: The sudden realization that a vexing problem or puzzle has no solution. 2: The realization that the elusive meaning one has been searching for in a challenging work of art or literature does not, in fact, exist. 3: The realization that the answer one has been looking for is what the individual has consciously known all along.

Michael Cummings defines it this way:

If an epiphany can best be described as a moment of happy enlightenment, the antiphany is that dark moment when you come to grips with something that darkens your brow.

Tall Man Wise Ass comes close to my own meaning, but leaves out the positive connotation:

It represents a sudden insight or understanding which is not in any way transcendent, but in fact horrible and gut wrenching. A moment in which you put the pieces together, and feel not enlightened, but as though you understand how much you’ve missed, and that things are much worse than you ever thought. Not just when you feel your stomach drop, but when you know it just entered the express elevator to hell.

I’ll let future dictionary people sort it out, but just in case, my own bid for linguistic immortality is:

an-it-pha-ny: n. (an-TIFF-uh-nee) 1. The sudden realization that a situation is dramatically opposite of what you thought it was.

With my luck, though, I’ll go down in the books for something stupid:

farfoculation: n. (far-fok-yoo-LAY-shun) the act of slamming one’s jaw shut, and the sound produced when the teeth click together. See also: Farfel the Dog, puppet actor in 1950′s Nestle’s commercial. [The term is a failed attempt at wit coined by atheist author Hank Fox, whose entire work, save only this single word, has rightly vanished from history.]

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  • Diana

    I’ll try to use both of those words in writing, just to get them out there; passing them along may cause others to use them, if they fill a need.

    A few years ago, I came up with the word “antedritian” to mean “older than dirt.” (Dirt was drit before it migrated forward.) I have a few friends who use it occasionally, but it hasn’t made it into the dictionary yet. As the population ages and us old farts become more numerous, I think it just might catch on. On the other hand, “antediluvian” and “antebellum” aren’t actually burning holes in pages, so maybe not.

  • anatman

    now i’m depressed. i have no upper teeth, so i can’t farfoculate!

  • Lauren Ipsum

    How about calling it “reversing your ocularity”?

    I coined “arborvision,” meaning “the ability to see the forest for the trees.”

  • binjabreel

    Frankly, farfoculation sounds like the disorienting feeling caused by the massive re-orientation of opinions following an antiphany.

  • rjlangley

    Blound: past-participle of ‘to blind’.

    ‘Saint Paul was blound on the road to Damascus’.

  • rjlangley

    By the way, don’t know whether Blackadder made it to your side of the Pond, but…

    Samuel Johnson visits the Prince Regent

  • neilt


    Aunt Tiffany???? What are you doing hanging out with all these heathens?

  • http://wanderinweeta.blogspot.com Susannah

    “Antiphany”; I love it! It’s exactly the word I’ve been needing to label those moments (still far too frequent – the brainwashing went deep) when I stop in my tracks, say, “Duh!”, and start to wonder how I ever could have believed such blatant idiocy.

    And I know I’ll find uses for “antidritian”, too. Thanks, Diana.

  • justawriter

    How about a different root word? -strophe is greek for “turn” (catastrophe = overturn) so metastrophe or antistrophe may work. Or in latin it seems to be -verso or -vert (google translate has turn around as converso, which has some unfortunate alternate meanings) but maybe retroversion is what you are looking for.

  • edivimo

    I’ll suggest perspective flip as defined by TVTrope:

    A subtrope of External Retcon, in which somebody takes a known — often classic — story, and retells it, turning it on its head. What you thought was the villain is now taken as a protagonist, and is portrayed with a greater degree of sympathy. The heroes of the story as best known might not come across so well in this telling.

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