Ohmygod, I love this Morning News story: Dennis Mahoney (the Non-Expert) “explains” why people always come and press the elevator button after you’ve already done it. I’m embarrassed to say that I recognize myself — or, more accurately, my impatience — in a few of the things ascribed to the fictional Bob. (And does anyone else remember the HBO series Not Necessarily the News, with the awesomely-invented sniglets? They were words that don’t, but should, exist, and one of the most memorable was “elacceleration,” meaning the additional speed imparted to an elevator by someone repeatedly pressing the call button. It’s a word that, for all intents and purposes, now exists in the little dictionary in my brain as a result of the show.)


You’re thinking of Rich Hall’s gift to the world, Sniglets.

Sold in small books and eventually box sets of books, they were all over during my 1980s teenage years. I used to own quite a number of them.

My favorites would be “table snorkling” (when you eat something too hot and start fanning in front of your mouth) and people that acted like an “essoasso” (someone that drives through a gas station just to get around a red light). I always thought the Wired jargon watch was a nerdier version of 90s sniglets.

• Posted by: mathowie on Sep 3, 2002, 1:41 AM

You’re both right — Rich Hall did the Sniglets on NNTN before they were in books. Some that have become a permanent part of my personal vocabulary include “pockalanche” (having something fall from a shirt pocket, causing you to bend over to retrieve it, causing something else to fall from your shirt pocket, ad infinitum; this actually happens to me all the time), “tubswizzle” (the act of pushing the water in the bathtub around to even out the temperature) and “gazinta” (the name for the “divided by” sign ; sounds like “goes into”).

More (including “elacceleration”) here.

• Posted by: jjg on Sep 3, 2002, 2:56 AM

“BUZZACKS (buz’ aks) n. People in phone marts who walk around picking up display phones and listening for dial tones even when they know the phones are not connected.”

Phone marts? Wow, holy pre-Baby Bell Time Warp, Batman! I forgot NNTN was that old.

• Posted by: Anil on Sep 3, 2002, 6:54 AM

A similar concept was executed by the sadly late Douglas Adams in The Meaning of Liff. Out of print, some of a sequel are collectible … starting at $80.

• Posted by: Dan Hartung on Sep 3, 2002, 10:40 PM

The notable distinction between The Meaning of Liff and Sniglets is that Liff started with words (specifically, place names) and grafted on meanings, while Sniglets started with the meanings and then strove to come up with appropriate-sounding words.

• Posted by: jjg on Sep 4, 2002, 1:39 AM

backsplatch, spork, furbling… so much space in my brain’s vocab center devoted to Sniglets…

• Posted by: LLM on Sep 9, 2002, 8:49 PM
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