Defined by American comedian Rich Hall as "a word that doesn't appear in the dictionary but should."
Hall coined the term while performing in the HBO series Not Necessarily the News (1983-1990) and between 1984 and 1990 compiled several volumes of sniglets.
- Nonce Word
- Portmanteau Word
- Stunt Word
- Verbal Play
- Word Play
- Words at Play: An Introduction to Recreational Linguistics
Examples and Observations:
- Here are some of the original sniglets coined or collected by Rich Hall:
doork, a person who pushes on a door marked "pull."
flirr, a photograph that features the camera operator's finger in the corner.
lotshock, the act of parking your car, walking away, and then watching it roll past you.
krogling, the nibbling of small items of fruit and produce at the supermarket, which the customer considers "free sampling" and the owner considers "shoplifting."
lerplexed, unable to find the correct spelling for a word in the dictionary because you don't know how to spell it.
mustgo, any item of food that has been sitting in the refrigerator so long it has become a science project.
profanitype, the special symbols and stars used by cartoonists to replace swear words (points, asterisks, stars, and so on). It is yet to be determined which specific character represents which specific expletive.
pupkus, the moist residue left on a window after a dog presses its nose to it.
- "[A]pparently not a single sniglet has had any appreciable use outside of the books and articles that introduce it.
"It is not because sniglets have no usefulness. After all, there truly is no word for 'Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes' (sniglet: aquadextrous) or 'The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance' (sniglet: carperpetuation) . . ..
"Why have all the sniglets failed? One reason may be that the proposed words are too odd . . .. You might well get a laugh if you admitted to carperpetuation . . .. Or you might get a blank look. Your listeners would not know what you meant; the words have a familiar sound, but they are clever jokes, and the definitions turn out to be surprising punchlines instead of self-evident combinations."
(Allan A. Metcalf, Predicting New Words: The Secrets of Their Success. Houghton Mifflin, 2002)
- "At St. Paul's School I frequently asked my seniors to make up sniglets about our lives together in a boarding school community. As Rich Hall's sniglets books demonstrate again and again, granting something a name helps us to look at it through new eyes and become more aware of its existence. I hoped that, in the process of fabricating their own sniglets, my students would better understand the realities, dreams, fears, and joys of their lives at a residential school nestled in a valley in Concord, New Hampshire:
cryptocarnoophobic (adj.) How one feels when mystery meat is placed on the table at evening seated meal.(Richard Lederer, The Miracle of Language. Simon & Schuster, 1991)
gastro-optimize (v.) To go out to the cafeteria for more food in order to stay and talk with the ultimate scope. (In St. Paul's School slanguage a scope is a gorgeous member of the opposite sex.)"
- "Actually, the sniglet as a linguistic form is not new--witness, for example, Gelett Burgess's 1914 Burgess Unabridged, a collection of fanciful coinages, one of which (blurb), defying the usual trajectory of the sniglet, eventually managed to insinuate itself into respectable lexicographic society (along with bromide, an existing term for which he elsewhere coined the meaning 'platitude')."
(Alexander Humez, Nicholas Humez, and Rob Flynn, Short Cuts: A Guide to Oaths, Ring Tones, Ransom Notes, Famous Last Words, & Other Forms of Minimalist Communication. Oxford Univ. Press, 2010)