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Winning Words and Losing Lingo

Ammon Shea recently spent a year of his life reading the OED from start to finish. Over the next few months he will be posting weekly blogs about the insights, gems, and thoughts on language that came from this experience. His book, Reading the OED, has been published by Perigee, so go check it out in your local bookstore. In the post below Ammon reflects words to use post-election.

It is the day after the election here, and it seems that everyone is feeling very much of something. I am sure that every election it feels as though there is some tremendous divide between those who have voted for and those who have voted against whatever party has emerged as the victor, and so I’ve pulled together some words which might be used by either of these two groups to describe their current emotional state.

For those who voted for the winners – conjubilant – (jubilant or rejoicing together). This word may be used in conjunction with, or in lieu of, congaudence (which also means ‘rejoicing together’). I’m rather fond of the word gratulation, which the OED defines as ‘a feeling of gratification, joy, or exultation; rejoicing in heart’ but also includes a note that states that it implies self-congratulation upon some good fortune.

For those who were voting against the losing party rather than for the winning one I would like to point out that one of the lesser-known definitions of the relatively common word malign (as an adjective) is ‘desiring or rejoicing in the suffering of other’.

For those on the losing side I would proffer words of descriptive capability rather than palliatives, and the OED is swimming with words to describe misfortune and turns of life gone awry. Should you care to take a break from recapping the election I would suggest that you turn to the advanced search page of the online OED and spend some time browsing. In just a minute you can enter a variety of words into the three search boxes there, words such as unhappy, misfortune, and bad, and the computer will spit back at you a plethora of electoral terms to suit your state. Words such as infelicitate (to render unhappy), unhap (to bring misfortune), and abjective (tending to demoralize).

And maybe I’m wrong that everyone has a strong feeling one way or another about the election, and there is in fact a large number of people who are not feeling much of anything today – people for whom these words are all quite superfluous. If you do happen to fall into this camp, than I have but one word left for you – you are all indifferentists (those who profess or practice indifference, neutrality, or unconcern).

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Recent Comments

  1. mollymooly

    ‘Schadenfreude’ is the classic “the Germans have a word for everything” word; those malign Germans must have suppressed this sense of ‘malign’.

  2. Ollie

    Why use the German word when we already have a perfectly good (and much better sounding) word with the same meaning? Epicaricacy is the English equivalent of schadenfreude.

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