Youthiness, nonchronformism, etc.


This blog, besides being a soapbox for me, gives those of you who are Word Fugitives enthusiasts a place to post your word inventions where other readers can admire them. You'll be able to see what others have come up with, too. (If you're shy, you don't have to post publicly - use the form at the upper right. BTW, please don't post Fugitives requests in the comments section if you hope to see them published in the magazine. Use the form.)

There has never been enough space in the magazine to share all the clever suggestions readers make to fill a given word need. Here are runners-up that almost found their way into print in response to "Please help me find an appropriate word for the reluctance or aversion of many persons (young or old) to revealing their true age." The readers I've credited aren't necessarily the only ones to have suggested their particular coinages; they're the ones whose wording caught my eye. Apologies to anyone I left out. Feel free to claim credit, if credit is due, in a post of your own.

Kostis Protopapas, of Tulsa, OK: "The aversion to revealing one's age could be described as "cryptogenarianism"."

Paul Gembus, of Topanga, CA: "First of all, since I am living in Southern California, this discussion puts an interesting spin on the concept of "New Age Living." Those individuals who are frequently shearing years from their ages should be cited for "underage thinking.""

Emily Jones, of Newtown, CT: "I've only seen it in older people, and I'd suggest either committing an unyouth, or the act of being unyouthful."

Janet Parrish, of Oakland, CA: "That tendency not to reveal one's age? duhhh: Obfuscageon. Of course."

John S. Stevens, of Chicago, IL: "For many years, people have guessed that I am many years older than I am.  Strangely, that still makes me one of those who has feelings of annumosity.  Though one might say of a fellow who has a strong case of annumosity that he is a Secret Age Gent."

David Viator, of Houston, TX: "An aversion to revealing one's true age is certainly epochryphobia.  The false age is epochryphal once spoken."

Jamie Labas, of Calgary, Alberta: "How about a "nonchronformist"?"

Saskia Wolsak, of Vancouver, BC: "The false age that they give you? It's an "era-similitude"."

Karl G. LaPinska, of Albuquerque, NM: "The most appropriately descriptive word to me is "ageless.""

Michael Marris, of Auckland, New Zealand: "I can only imagine that people - young and old and even down here in the Antipodes - who are reluctant to reveal their ages would constitute the "coy polloi"."

Geoffrey R Webster, of Grasse, France: "A few moments ago I was relating to my french wife that normally the Atlantic Monthly gets to me in the South of France to late to submit to the Word Fugitives. This time the July August issue gave me an opportunity to submit before the deadline {my other submission  - obsessive compulsive dishorder}. I then related my thoughts for a submission for the aversion to reveal age which is verititis or veracititis. She replied, 'Oh no- what about lie-ager, you know like teenager.' So there, you now have three submissions!"

Wayne Zafft, of Westwood, MA: "When someone is unwilling to give you their true age, they will instead give you their chronododgical age, often expressed in might-years."

Michael Sang, of Caldwell, NJ: "Those that have an " revealing their true age" could be said to have ageita."

Gregg Cherrington-Kelly, of Grand Forks, B.C.: "spanless."

Stephen Hawk, of Sugar Grove IL: "In a nod to Stephen Colbert's coinage of "truth-y-ness," that which approximates the [actual] truth, I suggest "youth-y-ness." as in, "When asked her age, her answer had the ring of  youth-y-ness.""

Bill Hoskyn, of Tacoma, WA: "I seriously doubt that most age fabrications are premeditated.  Rather, when people are asked, "How old are you?," they come down with a sudden case of age fright."

Leslie Maxfield and S. George Djorgovski, of Altadena, CA: "People who do this are being disagenuous."

Connie Day, of Jericho, VT: "As one sometimes reticent to reveal my age, I am among the "close-monthed.""

Jay Fialkoff, of New York, N.Y.: "anniversarial"

Doug Drown, of Bingham, ME: "CIRCUMANNUATION: going around and around the matter of one's age without ever quite answering the question."  

Lee Bash, of Austin, Texas: "In response to Mr. Brown's request for a word describing the aversion some (older people, in this case) have to revealing their true age, and to, perhaps,  re-draw the age boundary, I submit to you the word gerimeandering."

Max Raskin, of Summit, NJ: "As a high school student, I am used to my friends trying to conceal their age with fake IDs. They are adolesenescent. Similarly the elderly are always geriatricking themselves (and others) into believing they are younger."

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Visit Barbara Wallraff’s blog, at barbarawallraff, to see more commentary on language and to submit Word Fugitive queries and words that meet David K. Prince’s need. Readers whose queries are published and those who take top honors will receive an autographed copy of Wallraff’s most recent book, Word Fugitives. More

Barbara WallraffBarbara Wallraff, a contributing editor and columnist for The Atlantic, has worked for the magazine for 25 years. She is also a weekly syndicated newspaper columnist for King Features and the author of Word Fugitives (2006), Your Own Words (2004), and the national best-seller Word Court (2000). Her writing about language has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wilson Quarterly, The American Scholar, and The New York Times Magazine.

Wallraff has been an invited speaker at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the National Writers Workshop, the Nieman Foundation, Columbia Journalism School, the British Institute Library of Florence, and national or international conventions of the American Copy Editors Society, the Council of Science Editors, the International Education of Students organization, and the Journalism Education Association. She has been interviewed about language on the Nightly News With Tom Brokaw and dozens of radio programs including Fresh Air, The Diane Rehm Show, and All Things Considered. National Public Radio's Morning Edition once commissioned her to copy edit the U.S. Constitution. She is a member of the American Heritage Dictionary Usage Panel. The Genus V edition of the game Trivial Pursuit contains a question about Wallraff and her Word Court column.

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