23 Jan 2011

Gnoron

Submitted by Karl Hagen
At Respectful Insolence today, Orac promoted a word coined by one of his commenters: gnoron:
A "gnoron" is like a moron, except that where a moron is lacking in intelligence (something they cannot help, of course) a gnoron is someone of decent intelligence whose own willful ignorance has brought them to an equivalent state of incompetence.
It's a cute coinage. Etymologically, it's a blend of ignorant and moron. It's bit ironic that the root gno- (knowledge) is stripped of its negative prefix. I predict that the word won't really catch on, despite Orac's promise that he's going to start using it. Not only do slangy rhyming blends rarely survive, but ignoramus is already well established for roughly the same concept. But I would argue that the point of neologizing in this sort of circumstance isn't really to get people to use a new word. It's the sniglet trope: the idea that there ought to be a word for some complex concept. If you really think about it, it's a silly assumption. Why is having a single word to describe an idea inherently better than a phrase? It clearly isn't. The neologism with its word play serves merely as a linguistic amuse-bouche, whetting the appetite for the real point of the exercise, the discussion of the concept behind the word.