It’s not that carma, carcissism, carmraderie, esprit de car, and autobond weren’t good ideas—they were. But they were such good ideas that hordes of people thought of each of them when asked, in May, to put a name to “that happy feeling of kinship one feels for the driver of a car of the same make and model as one’s own.”
A few individualistic readers’ thoughts turned to the particular rather than the general. Christian Ruch, of Hopkins, Minn., wrote, “The first term that came to mind for me was Civic pride, because I felt such a strong bond with anyone driving a Honda Civic hatchback during the more than 10 years I drove one.” Rachel Ward, of Rochester, N.Y., wrote, “I experience a feeling of Corollallinthistogether when I see people driving a Corolla S, as I do.” Kristina Graber, of Three Rivers, Calif., wrote, “As a hybrid-vehicle owner, I have come to recognize a certain smugness hybrid ownership brings. Owners of such vehicles share a feeling of hybris.”
A few other readers’ thoughts turned to Kurt Vonnegut, who died in April. Among them was Alan Feuer, of Brookline, Mass., who wrote, “In Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut coined granfalloon for the grand concept of a happenstance group. The special-case group of same-make purchasers might logically be a brandfalloon, and the nutty behavior it induces brandfalloonery, sometimes contracted to b’f’oonery.”
David McGarvey, of Lake Bluff, Ill., argued that the word sought should be “the opposite of fender bender: fender friender.” Julie Marshall, of Leona Valley, Calif., and Jean-Yves Thuret, of Paris, France, suggested vroommate; David Sergenian, of Los Angeles, jaloppelganger; Doug Slaten, of Fallbrook, Calif., me-toot; and Alexander Rolfe, of Newberg, Ore., vehic-hilarity.
Charles Slat, of Monroe, Mich., had actual information to share. He wrote, “Around the Motor City, cars are known as ‘Ford-badged’ or ‘GM-badged’ or ‘Chrysler-badged’ if they sport the logos or emblems of those automakers. Same-vehicle kinship is known as badgeraderie.” If that’s industry jargon, it’s good jargon—and besides, it’s fun to say. Slat takes top honors.
Now Lee Westbrock, of Charleston, S.C., writes, “I’ve noticed that we are all getting better at rapidly turning off a cell phone that rings at an inappropriate moment. I’m in need of a word to describe this skill so that I can compliment my students.”
And David and Manisha Eigner, of Seoul, Korea, write, “We are looking for a word or phrase for when a married couple is having sex without birth control for the purpose of having a baby. Working on it doesn’t seem really accurate. And trying for a baby sounds as if you are at the game booth at a county fair. We would like for there to be a polite but meaningful phrase for this period in our lives.”
Send words that meet Lee Westbrock’s or David and Manisha Eigner’s needs to Word Fugitives, The Atlantic Monthly, P.O. Box 67375, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, or visit the Word Fugitives page on our Web site, at www.theatlantic.com/fugitives. Submissions must be received by October 31. Use the same addresses to submit word fugitives that you’d like The Atlantic’s help in finding. Letters become the property of Word Fugitives and may be edited.
Readers whose queries are published and those whose words are singled out for top honors will each receive, with our thanks, a selection of recent autographed books by Atlantic authors. The next installment’s correspondents will be sent The Atomic Bazaar, by William Langewiesche; God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America, by Hanna Rosin; and my own Word Fugitives.