Friday, October 24, 2008

Somewhere In A Malternate Universe.

In yesterday's round of reading the entire internet, (I was bored, so I read the whole thing), I stopped in over at Brian White's Talk Wordy to Me. Yesterday's post over there contained links to a few things he had found interesting. One of the links took me to this post on Watch Yer Language. The proprietor there was decrying the existence of the word malternative. Once I read the actual definition (alternatives to malt liquor such as Zima), I found myself in agreement with him in that context.

But if you read the comments, you'll see that I (and the commenter who got there ahead of me, the bastard), had heard the word differently. To quote the commenter:

"Before I read what a “malternative” was, I thought the word was a portmanteau of “mal-” and “alternative,” making the word refer to a bad alternative. In that case, it wouldn’t have been such a bad word."
Note: I don't think it actually is a portmanteau since I think of the "mal" as a prefix rather than a word on its own. But it does end up providing us with a perfectly good word if we only seize the moment and utterly co-opt it. Just think of all the situations where it'll come in handy.

John McCain: "Sarah Palin? Really? Who the hell is she?"
McCain Advisor: "She's the least objectionable malternative."

or how about,

Me in a Chinese Restaurant: "Jeez, the stinky tofu sure is expensive. Do you have a cheaper malternative?"

Yes folks, I just know this one is gonna catch on. Just like my coinage for trawling did!

The assignment, then, for today shall be the co-opting of words. What words out there already have a perfectly good (or bad) definition, but you think it should mean something else? Throw your worst malternatives at me.


vince said...

limpid - means clear and bright, but should mean something that requires Viagra or it's ilk to fix.

Anonymous said...

Credulence: the state of having a viable credit status in the midst of an economic disaster.

"While his neighbors dodged repo men, Gordon smugly bragged about his credulence in the middle of the 21st century's first recession."

Nathan said...


That might be cheating. I'll check with the judges and get back to you.

Steve Buchheit said...

malfeasance - I think that should be what makes Serenity go.

Jim Wright said...

failout - throwing money at Wall Street in order to restart the economy.