Style Invitational Week 1046: Derive us crazy with a bogus etymology
of an expression

By Pat Myers
Published: November 7

*With the invention of sushi, the craze for eating raw fish swept
through ancient Japan, and the fresher the better. Excitedly, people
began holding worms or beetles in their teeth and dunking their heads
into the sea, hoping to attract a live fish and consume it instantly.
This was called “waiting with baited breath.” * /(Sue Lin Chong, 1997) /

No, that’s not really the origin of the expression — for one thing, it’s
really “bated breath,” as in “abated,” or lessened; in other words,
holding your breath. Sue Lin’s fractured etymology was actually the
winning entry in Week 235, a contest that the Czar repeated in 2001 but
we hadn’t done since. So let’s give it another go. *This week: Offer a
bogus but funny explanation of how a particular expression originated.*
Though the above example confuses two words that are pronounced the
same, we’d like you to stay mostly to the actual words in the
expression, rather than pun on them (e.g., “you slurper to the throne”);
those are shaggy-dog stories, and perhaps they’re a future contest.
There’s no strict word limit, but it shouldn’t be much longer than the
example; don’t write a whole story, and always, remember that you’re
basically telling a joke that should build to a punch line.

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial
the Lincoln statue bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational
trophy. Second place receives, perfectly apropos to this contest, the
book “I’m Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears, and Other Intriguing Idioms
From Around the World,” by Jag
Bhalla, who happens to be a friend of Uber-Loser Kevin Dopart, who
donated it to us years and years ago after suggesting we do this very
contest. (See, I get around to things eventually.) The title refers to a
Russian expression equivalent to the just as odd “I’m not pulling your leg.”

*Other runners-up *win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug

or the ardently desired Grossery Bag
Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet
First Offenders receive a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink

for their first ink). E-mail entries to /
/ or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is
Monday, Nov. 18; results published Dec. 8 (online Dec. 5). No more than
25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 1046” in your e-mail
subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name,
postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and
guidelines at . The
subhead for this week’s honorable mentions was submitted by both Nan
Reiner and Roy Ashley; the alternative headline in the “Next week’s
results line is by Jeff Contompasis. Join the lively Style Invitational
Devotees group on Facebook at /
,/ and click “like” on Style Invitational Ink of
the Day at / /.

*Report from Week 1042, our 10th annual Tour de Fours contest, in which we supply a four-letter
block — this year it was S-A-N-E — and ask you to make up a new word or
term containing this block of letters, in any order, but with no other
letters between them.

*The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial:

*Senatorpedo:* Cruz missile. “The tea party’s vaunted senatorpedo
self-destructed shortly after its launch.” /(Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)/

*2. * */Winner of the book “The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese

/ * *Snyder sneak:* A football play in which the team owner dives
backward while everyone else continues to move forward. Usually used
only for short gains./(Chris Damm, Charles Town, W.Va., a First Offender)/

*3. * *Condé Nasty:* A guide to the places you definitely /don’t/ want
to go on vacation. /(Christopher Lamora, Los Angeles)/

*4. * *Stanes: *An unsuccessful brand of underwear./(Rob Huffman,
Fredericksburg, Va.)/

*The NAES:*

*honorable mentions*

*Tweans: *Moves beyond a youthful fan base: “Miley hopes her foam finger
will finally twean her off the kiddie market.” /(Jim Stiles, Rockville,

*Seasnot:* Raw oysters. /(Larry Gray, Union Bridge, Md.)/

*Buyenas:* Vicious creatures that attack big-box stores in feeding
frenzies the day after Thanksgiving. /(Ben Aronin, Arlington, Va.)/

*Phone-sax:* My extremely effective answer to unwanted calls. /(Mae
Scanlan, Washington)/

*Dan’s-end:* Hindquarters. “He’s got less sense than the Dan’s-end of a
mule.” /(Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.) /

*Prattlesnake:* A person who spends half an hour encouraging you to let
it all out, then turns around and tells everyone what you said. /(Kyle
Hendrickson, Urbana, Md.; Danielle Nowlin, Woodbridge, Va.)/

*Bellybeans:* Outies. /(Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.) /

*Smarmesan:* A waiter’s unctuous smile: “They really lay on the
smarmesan at Luigi’s when they push the specials.”/(Kyle Hendrickson) /

*Esanem:* Rapper also known as Slam Shady. /(Ellen Raphaeli, Falls
Church, Va.) /

*Maccabeans:* Ideal side dish for this year’s Thanksgivukkah Dinner.
/(Nan Reiner, Alexandria, Va.) /

*Hanes Point:* The bottom edge of the underwear waistband, which should
be the acceptable limit for pants-sag: “The school sent Tyler home after
catching him with his pants below Hanes Point.” /(Ivars Kuskevics,
Takoma Park, Md.) /

*Nosenappy: *A handkerchief. /(Brian Allgar, Paris) /

*Sextrasensory perception:* Innate ability to tell a creeper from a
keeper. /(Kyle Hendrickson) /

*Bellyjeans: *What you need to change into after too much Easter
candy./(Randy Lee, Burke, Va.) /

*Mensa-envy:* What Mensa members — and only Mensa members — think other
people have. /(Tom Witte) /

*Mensahib: *The smartest guy in the room. /(Pam Sweeney, Burlington,

*Meansa:* “Where smart does not always equal nice. Enjoy your rejection
letter — we did.” /(Rachel Tuxford, Bedford, England, a First Offender)/

*Congressmensa:* Washington’s most exclusive club — no one qualifies for
it. /(John Bunyan, Cincinnati) /

*Can-selfie:* Modern version of the butt-Xerox. /(Jim Stiles) /

*Tortoisean:* A shade beyond “Vuitton” on the skin-tone color wheel for
South Florida retirees. /(Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.) /

*Men-salute:* A grunt, if you’re lucky to get that much. /(Dave Prevar,
Annapolis, Md.) /

*An-sewer:* A filthy response to an innocent question. /(Jeff
Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.) /

*Sea Nerds:* Fish who excel in schools, but are awkward in spawning
situations. /(Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.) /

*Les Nats: *The closest thing to a baseball team that Montreal has.
/(Mark Raffman) /

*SNAE:* Situation Normal, All [Expletive]. /(Brian Allgar)/

*Chiensac:* Fancy name for the plastic bag you take along when you walk
the dog. /(Mae Scanlan) /

*Can-esthesia:* The numbness you get after sitting way too long on the
throne. /(Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.) /

*Manesthesia:* Beer. /(Jeff Contompasis; Jeff Greenspan, Fairfax, Va.,
whose only previous Invite ink was from 12 years ago)/

*Ginsane:* What you are after six martinis. /(Tom Witte) /

*Seananity:* Silliness seen on Fox News./(William C. Kennard, Arlington,
Va.) /

*Defenes-nation: *Throwing the country out the window. /(J. Larry
Schott, Gainesville, Fla.) /

*Unseamly:* A description of my eighth-grade sewing project. /(Diana
Oertel, San Francisco)/

*Mouse anus:* Where one can easily fit every good justification for the
government shutdown. /(Frank Mann, Washington) /

*Hanes Point:* Picturesque site featuring a wood sculpture called “The
Morning Awakening.”
Honley, Washington) /

*Cinéass:* A spoiler of movie endings. “Some cinéass just told me Dil is
a guy!” /(Chris Doyle) /

*Anesthletic: *The Golf Channel. /(David Garratt, Silver City, N.M.)/

And Last: *Inanesylum:* The Style Invitational. /(Frank Osen)/

And Even Laster: *Lose-and-Learn:* As if. /(Mark Raffman)/

*Top of the Loser board*

With his first-place win this week — his 47th! — along with his
honorable mention, Chris Doyle finally passes longtime champ Russell
Beland to become the highest-inking Style Invitational contestant ever,
with 1,525 published entries and other mentions to his name.

Chris has the astonishing ability to work a clever pun into any form of
joke, from anything from sophisticated song parodies to Yo Mama jabs,
but most notably the thousands of limericks he’s written over the years.
Here’s one from 2006:

At Oxford, Bill Clinton dug classes,
The campus, the culture, the lasses.
When he told us a tale
(“Ah didn’t inhale”),
He was looking through Rhodes-scholared glasses.

*Still running — deadline Monday night — is our contest to cite a line
of a song and make up a question it could answer. See
. *

/See the Empress’s online column The Style Conversational
(published late
Thursday), in which she discusses today’s new contest and results along
with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite
among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose
the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when
the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, sign up here
or write to the Empress at (note that in the
subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook,
join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees
and chime in there. /

*Next week’s results: Celebrity vs. Reality,
* or *Art Imitating Imitated Life, * our Week 1043 contest, which asked
you to suggest a TV reality show that some famous person could host.

© The Washington Post Company