July 12. The word is cromulent.

Spoiler alert: I looked this one up long, long ago, because it is a fun word, and I wanted to know why I’d never heard of it. Answer: it didn’t exist before the mid-90’s, and didn’t get into regular usage until the late 00’s.  I can see why it’s gaining in usage. Just saying it is fun. Go ahead, say it. You have to roll it around in your mouth. krom-you-lent.

It sounds serious and scholarly and important…and yet..what does it mean?

Turns out it isn’t a real word or one that has a meaning. Cromulent has no definition. As far as I can tell, it was deliberately created without one. I consider it no more  or less legitimate than any other  word, but it is (as far as I know)  the only one specifically designed to be obscure.

It was created for The Simpsons, which is to say born in humor, raised on sarcasm, steeped in facetious silliness. Nothing about the Simpsons can be taken seriously, but that’s why it’s such a seriously good humor-mirror for society.

The thing that makes cromulent most fascinating (to me, granted, and I am easily amused) is that it shows off the Emperor’s new clothes of language. It’s a grammatical white space that makes other words show up better. Even though it’s meaningless itself, meaning can be inferred from all the words around it. So really, it means everything.

That is so cromulent!


word provided by Beth Waggoner Patterson

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