Commentary by Curtis Honeycutt
Remember faces? We used to be able to see people’s noses, mouths, chins and — sometimes — glorious mustaches. In order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we wear face coverings in everyday places including grocery stores, schools and post offices. All we can see of each other’s faces is our eyes. That’s where Tyra Banks comes in.
During season 13 of “America’s Next Top Model,” supermodel-turned-reality show host Tyra Banks coined the term “smize,” which means to smile with your eyes. Back in 2009, this term was limited to the circles of reality television buffs who lived for the weekly drama of this new and unpredictable genre. Now in 2021, the “smize” is one of the only ways we can show warmth to the folks with whom we rub socially-distant shoulders in our communities.
What kind of word is “smize”? It’s a verbal mashup of the words “smile” and “eyes.” First of all, “smize” is a neologism, which is a term for a newly-coined word. I love new words; they keep our language fresh and vibrant.
“Smize” is also considered a word blend, portmanteau, or — I love this term — a “frankenword.” I’ve written about portmanteaus before, but word blends, portmanteaus and frankenwords are all the same thing. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
Like smizes, word blends are everywhere. Whether someone advises you to “chillax” (chill + relax) or you find someone “mansplaining” (man + explaining) something to you, that’s a word blend. I would never go glamping (glamorous + camping) without my favorite spork (spoon + fork), lest I get hangry (hungry + angry).
Here are some lesser-known word blends. You’ve probably experienced the anticipation of a friend returning a text message to you. That’s called “textpectation.” When you play too many video games, you may contract a bad case of “Nintendinitis.” A “grolar bear” is a real animal discovered in 2006 which was half grizzly bear and half polar bear. Do you have a high schooler who is constantly on his/her digital device? That’s a screenager.
Have you seen the 2010 SyFy channel movie “Sharktopus”? It actually predated the movie series “Sharknado” that started in 2013. Let’s just say those movies were not “romcoms,” as any “skort”-wearing “momtrepreneur” could tell you.
What are your thoughts on “jorts”? Are they a fashion faux pas, or are they just another “nontreversy”? I’ll be waiting impatiently for your emails with great “anticipointment.”
Curtis Honeycutt is a syndicated humor columnist. He is the author of Good Grammar is the Life of the Party: Tips for a Wildly Successful Life. Find more at curtishoneycutt.com.