Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Word of the Day: “adultescence”

This gawky and unlovely coinage -- much like a pimpled teen, in fact -- is in the mold of such earlier hybrids as teenybopper and tweenager,  attempts to pin psychosocial developments into the lexicon.  I just now first encountered it in a very good article indeed, Elizabeth Kolbert’s “Spoiled Rotten”

Philological note:  Both adult and adolescent are inflections of the same Latin root meaning ‘to mature’: adult being the perfective participle (“mission accomplished”), adolescent the active-inchoative (“sometime real soon now”).  Adultescent is thus, though a chimaera, at least a patchwork of kindred species.


  1. We struggle not to let the kids rule in my house. While we've been good about some things, others are harder.

    We insisted that the kids eat what was on the table once they started eating adult food. "You don't have to eat it. You can opt to not eat instead. When you get hungry enough, you'll eat what I put in front of you." As a result, they willingly eat almost everything, especially the weird stuff.

    But, as in the article, finding way to enforce helping out around the house is a little harder. For one parent, it's a matter of time: it takes twice as long to do the dishes with "help" than it does to just get them knocked out. For the other parent, it's a matter of risk: If the kid is responsible for doing the dishes, will they be clean when they come out of the dishwasher? Will the dishwasher still work afterword? And getting the kids to spontaneously do chores? Fahgeddaboutit.

  2. Wordsmith GroupieJune 29, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Could you please explain why it's "ether" according to Microsoft Word (always a go-to for all your dictionary needs ) instead of "aether"? I thought it was "aether." And I thought it was "chimera," but you spelled it "chimaera." Is the ae truly interchangeable with the e? What's the story?

  3. An excellent question! Look for a post this weekend ("ae") by way of reply.

    1. Uh-oh. Forgot to say "inshallah".
      Didn't happen.
      Haven't forgotten, though.
      Quick answer: The "ae" is more hellenistically etymological, and more British. Further, some words have undergone Synonymic Differentiation based on this: daemon/demon; aether/ether.