What's in a Name? Adding Words to Our Vocabulary
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.
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!
October 28, 2008; 8:32 AM ET
| Tags: Metro, driving, polls
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