This week's winner is Erin Hall Meade, who in a Wednesday, May 23, letter confessed to being "appallated" by use of the word "swiften" in a Daily News story about the Alaska Republican Party.
"Is the ADN coining new words now?" she wrote.
I've tried, but the copy desk has never let me get the coin out of the mint.
I agreed with Ms. Meade. But as some writers were swift to point out, the magic of Google revealed that "swiften" is indeed a word, at least in some dictionaries. I couldn't find it in the worn Webster's New World on my desk, but online there it was, in the Urban Dictionary for example, with the explanation that swiften was a portmanteau.
Portmanteau? Now I had to look up another word. I learned that a portmanteau is a stiff, two-section suitcase, and further, that a portmanteau word is a descriptive blend of two words, like smog -- smoke and fog.
Swift and hasten. Swiften. But isn't that something you use to mop floors?
I still agree with Ms. Meade. "Hasten" was the better choice.
On the other hand, I still want to make up a word and get it in the paper.
Hasten or swiften as you like, but please write soon. The well is running summer dry.
-- Frank Gerjevic