I recorded only this one word, not its context, so I am at least sure the student was unaware of coining a term, since she provided no definition (had she, I surely would have written it down!).

But it’s one of those wonderful coinages that should enter the lexicon, because it expresses a real idea, or two, for which we do not yet have a word. The writer may have been influenced by commercials for Travelocity, not knowing that a noun form already exists for “frivolous”: frivolity, or even frivolousness. I prefer, though, to think she was creating what Lewis Carroll called a portmanteau word, two words in one container. If so, we might be seeing frivolous + ferocity, a vehement levity; or perhaps frivolous is joining with velocity to suggest high-speed silliness. If we can hold all possibilities simultaneously, frivolocity can express foolishness or hijinx on steroids, and as such becomes a very useful word in this day and age.

Another of my favorite student portmanteau words is flustrated. It’s probably just a common mis-hearing; I’ve gotten it from three or four students over the years. But as a blend of flustered and frustrated it seems very apt indeed, and I use it more and more as reality moves farther and farther from my desires in a society whose behavior makes less and less sense.

Because I’m sure you know what the writers of the terms that follow meant, I leave it to you to contemplate the picture of government mumble-jumble as the power of pervasion spreads frivolocity. It will probably leave you flustrated too.

About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

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