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What's in a Name? Adding Words to Our Vocabulary

FTLL.jpg

PHOTO BY MATT CULLEN


My computer is still smoking from the e-mails I received after last week's two columns on the subject of left-lane hogs. I think I would have gotten fewer responses if I'd written about abortion or school prayer.

Of course, I like sparking that sort of debate. I also like what I learn from readers. The most interesting tidbit of history I learned after those columns was about a man named John Nestor and the invention of the word "nestoring." Nestor was an FDA physician who in 1984 wrote a letter to The Post describing how he preferred to drive in the left lane, setting his cruise control at the speed limit. "Why," he asked in his letter, "should I inconvenience myself for someone who wants to speed?"

There were the expected outraged responses and his name became synonymous with the practice.

To "nestor" was to clog the left lane, as in "Can you believe that fool is nestoring us when the lanes to the right are free?" As late as 1994 the term was bandied about by Washington drivers.

I had two reactions upon learning about Nestor and nestoring, and both of them require your help. The first was to see if John Nestor is listed in Wikipedia. He is not. I think we ought to put him there. Perhaps someone among you could start a Wikipedia entry for him. His obituary, by Martin Weil, appeared in The Post in 1999 and I included it in my chat last week. There are other mentions of him scattered across the Web.

My second thought was: How cool is it to have your name inspire a word? What word would your name inspire? What unique quality that you possess, or event to which you are inexorably linked, should be an addition to our modern vocabulary? For example, in my household I'm pretty much known as "Dad." I think if my daughters were to coin a verb based on "dad" it would mean "to pay no attention to an offspring's education except for occasional fevered inquiries into whether he or she has done his or her homework, usually delivered so late as to be almost worthless." As in: "I was dadded on my way to the school bus this morning."

Public figures in Washington also seem likely inspirations for new words, viz: "to snyder": to take the reins of a distinguished and successful enterprise and through overinvolvement to ruin it. Example: "Man, he really snydered that project."

Post your suggestions for new words based on your name or the names of Washington figures in the comments below.

In Other News
Metro has announced it will randomly search passengers' bags. Dr. Gridlock thinks this is a bad idea, especially when Metro has so many other problems. What do you think:


Oh, and the winner of yesterday's "John Kelly's Commons" identify-the-Washington-landmark contest was Laurel Kopecky. She was the first to identify the postcard as the Bethesda Naval Hospital, or as it's officially called the National Naval Medical Center. She wins some Washington Post Pulitzer winners' autographs. I'll have a new image every Monday. Ya gotta play to win!

By John Kelly  |  October 28, 2008; 8:32 AM ET
 | Tags: Metro, driving, polls  
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Next: Knowledge on the March, Slowly

Comments

I think the most famous example of this is Gerrymandering. And I just learned that Maverick comes from a person's name. One I thought that ABC would have us using is Jacob Mann, the contestant of Wipeout this summer that accidently did a split on the big balls. The replayed that video so many times. It was great.

Posted by: dragnchic9 | October 28, 2008 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I think an even more famous example is sandwich, from the Earl of Sandwich, who invented them as a way to keep playing cards during meals.

Posted by: LemonBlossom | October 28, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Bowdlerize is one of my favorites. John might have to do some bowdlerizing of comments on lane hogs if he thinks they may offend those with delicate constitutions.

Posted by: mfromalexva | October 28, 2008 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Yes, those are good ones. Can anyone come up with new ones? What would "to lemonblossom" mean? "Ouch! I lemonblossomed my elbow coming down the stairs." Or "to dragnchic"? "Hey, don't dragnchic the last piece of pizza!"

Posted by: JohnFKelly | October 28, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I hear Mr Nestor had his DL suspended for a year after his conviction for Road Rage and Failure to Obey When Signaled. He refused to get out of left lane when someone flashed to pass.

Posted by: omarthetentmaker | October 30, 2008 7:50 AM | Report abuse

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