Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!


Word coined, word needed

Brad Templeton has coined a new word: scensor. I like it a lot.

[A] surveillance device which, by making people feel watched, causes them to self-censor their behaviour and speech.

I know the feeling. (OK, I moved one 's' to make it singular).

By coincidence, a few moments ago, I happened to run across a need for a word that doesn't exist in English. In French it's esprit de l'escalier ("the spirit of the staircase") and in German treppenwitz ("stair joke"). It's

those clever remarks or cutting rejoinders that only come to mind once it's too late for us to deliver them — literally, as we're headed down the stairs and out of the house.

The occasion was the reading of an article from the Urban Legends web site about Neil Armstrong's messing up of his well-rehearsed comment upon being the first human being to set foot on the moon — a story that's apparently well-known but that I had never heard. Actually the word that's needed is one with the opposite meaning: the carefully prepared, perfect remark that is flubbed in its delivery.

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