Redefining moments

Many professionals may need to use creative or lateral thinking in their work, but here’s a competition that invites anyone to do just that for individual words.

This is the so-called Washington Post Mensa Invitational – for which neither organisation seems prepared to claim credit. The challenge: to humorously redefine either a common word, or one that has been subtly changed by a letter or two (or, to put it in popular political phrasing, that has undergone redaction*.)

While the competition itself may be something of an urban myth, entries apparently pour into the newspaper yearly.

Unsolicited** or not, here are some highlights from the 2009 batch (plus a few of our own, below).

Straightforward alternative definitions

Coffee n. The person upon whom one coughs.
Flabbergasted adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
Balderdash n. A rapidly receding hairline.
Circumvent n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Subtly-altered redefined words

Giraffiti n. Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
Sarchasm n. The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
Decafalon n. The gruelling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

Pointless^? Perhaps. But you may never look at another word quite the same way again.

If you have any suggestions for, or opinions on, these Semantex™ ^^ shenanigans, leave them here.

*Redaction n. Communist to-do list.

**Unsolicited adj. Able to walk past a red light district unchecked.

^Pointless adj. [colloquial Birmingham] Left out of a pub round.

^^Semantex™ n. The practice of changing the meanings of words with explosive consequences.

The definitive guide to transforming the writing of individuals and teams