Style Invitational Week 1370: What’s in a name?
Write about someone using only the letters in the person’s name. Plus winning neologisms.

(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Pat Myers
Feb. 6, 2020 at 9:59 a.m. EST
(Click here to skip down to the winning neologisms featuring the letter block LIAR)

Donald Trump: A mutant pompadour on a mammon-adulator. (Chris Doyle, Week 617, 2005)

Angus MacGyver: Uses sunscreen, a car gauge, mucus, an eraser, mascara, a cane, garage grease, a N.Y. egg cream, gum — unarms a gang, rescues a granny, saves a nun. Vacuums mess. Cures cancer. (Kevin Dopart, Week 1009, 2013)

George Washington: He was a great one, a wise one, the shining star o’ the new nation. OTOH, tho there was no terror on his estate, there were no wages either. (Elden Carnahan, Week 1009)

Here’s a contest we hadn’t done in seven years, and there are certainly lots of new names to work with (along with the old ones). This week: Write something about a well-known person, real or fictional, using only the letters in that person’s name, as in the inking examples above.


Loser Kathleen Delano, who once put a dragon on her head for us, modeled this week's prize at last month's Losers' Post-Holiday Party. (Selfie by Kathleen Delano)
Loser Kathleen Delano, who once put a dragon on her head for us, modeled this week's prize at last month's Losers' Post-Holiday Party. (Selfie by Kathleen Delano)
Obviously you can repeat the letters, and you don’t necessarily have to use all of them. There’s no length limit, but you don’t get extra credit for running on at length just because you thought of some more usable words. What does get ink is something that sounds like actual English; if it’s hard to read, the Empress won’t. You may include a brief title with the name, such as “President George Washington,” but don’t overdo it to build yourself a huge bank of letters. In 2005 one Loser used “Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor, Prince of Wales.” That person did not get ink.

Submit up to 25 entries at (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Feb. 17; results will appear March 8 in print, March 5 online.

Winner gets the Lose Cannon, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place gets the exuberantly nifty noodle hat modeled here exuberantly by Loser Kathleen Delano and donated exuberantly, or at least generously, by Loser Dave Prevar.


Other runners-up win their choice of our “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mugs or our “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get one of our lusted-after Loser magnets, “Too-Weak Notice” or “Certificate of (de) Merit.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at The headline “Get RIAL” is by Jesse Frankovich; William Kennard wrote the honorable-mentions subhead. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at “Like” the Style Invitational Ink of the Day on Facebook at; follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.

The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column, published late Thursday afternoon, reviews each new contest and set of results. This week she shares some earlier ink from “What’s in a Name,” including some that did not stand the test of time. Check it out at

Don’t miss an Invite! Sign up at to receive a once-a-week email from the E as soon as The Style Invitational and Style Conversational go online every Thursday, complete with links to the columns.


And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

Get RIAL: Winning neologisms from our Tour de Fours contest
Week 1366 was our annual Tour de Fours contest to create new words (or snarkily define existing ones) that include a particular block of four letters, in any order. This year’s was LIAR (or RIAL, ARIL, etc.).

4th place:
Nostrail: What inevitably drips down your face when you’ve got the sniffles in February and you’re wearing your big gloves. (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn, Va.)

3rd place:
“Corialonus”: Shakespeare rendered acceptable for delicate sensibilities. (Steve Honley, Washington)

2nd place
and the crocheted Venus of Willendorf:
Heilraiser: The person in a political discussion who inevitably brings up a Hitler reference. (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

And the winner of the Lose Cannon:
Flopularity: When people flock to see a show just to revel in its badness. " 'Cats' has proved so flopular that the theater added a midnight showing for stoners who want to creep out at Judi Dench's fur-skin." (Bill Dorner, Indianapolis)


Receding har-lines: Honorable mentions
Bail-a-ruse: Where Carlos Ghosn got his fake passport. (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

Stairl: In addition to stubb’n, another thing a mule is. (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

Air latte: A big mug of foam with a measly amount of coffee underneath (see also air lager), (Gordon Cobb, Marietta, Ga.)

Billiar: “I swear I’ve never played pool before … beginner’s luck! Want to play again, double or nothing?” (Erika Ettin, Washington)

Brrraille: When it’s so cold that blind folks can read messages in your goose bumps. (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

“King Liar”: A monarch promises his kingdom to all three daughters, then leaves it to his jester. (Steve Honley)

Cigarlic: Baskin-Robbins decided to stay at 31 flavors after this new one proved less than a hit. (Stephen Dudzik, Olney, Md.)


Darlingual: Fluent in completing a spouse’s sentences. (Eric Nelkin, Silver Spring, Md.)

Fairlymandering: Something elected politicians in “safe” districts will never agree to. (Roy Ashley, Washington)

Garlic breadth: A safe distance to maintain after eating Texas toast or scampi. Equivalent to three onion breadths. (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Hel Air: For such a fancy L.A. neighborhood, it sure has a lot of smog. (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)

Hillari-T: A “Lock Him Up” shirt. (Ann Martin, Brentwood, Md.)

Huhlarity: The awkward I’d-better-laugh reaction of the only person in the room who doesn’t get the joke. (Lennie Magida, Urbana, Md.)

Infilrate: Go onto a competitor’s website and fill it with bad reviews. (Bird Waring, Larchmont, N.Y.)

Jailr: Dating app to find the perfect prison “friend.” (Ryan Martinez, Takoma Park, Md.)


Liarrhea: A condition of continually talking out one’s rear. “The staff reminder ‘Imodium before the podium’ still failed to prevent liarrhea at the Rose Garden news conference.” (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Newtrality: Being fair and balanced to all, whether Americans or liberals. (Frank Osen)

Parilous: At risk of being just average. “My kid’s test scores are borderline parilous — do you have Rick Singer’s number?” (Sam Mertens, Silver Spring, Md.)

Per-spiral: That cycle when sweating makes you nervous, which makes you sweat more. (Mark Raffman)

Pliars: What the dentist uses to rip out your molar while cooing, “This might cause a bit of discomfort.” (Chris Murphy, Germantown, Md.)

Receding airline: The flight you just missed as it disappears into the sky. (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)

Reliarable: Describing people who can be counted on to rattle off falsehoods whenever they open their mouths. (Sorry, I can’t come up with any examples.) (Kel Nagel, Salisbury, Md.)


Risquéclair: Why is that pastry shaped like … that? (Jeff Contompasis)

Shangri-ladies’ rooms: Where there’s never a line, the mirrors are slimming and the three-ply Cottonelle flows like wine. (Jeff Shirley)

Sir Lancelittle: The ladies teased him for having a short spear. (Jesse Frankovich, Lansing, Mich.)

Smearling: An apprentice opposition researcher. (Jeff Contompasis)

Snarli: Kellyanne Conway’s unicorn name. (Kel Nagel)

Syria later: What you say to the Kurds as you break all your promises to them. (Duncan Stevens)

The Blair Pitch Project: Visitors to a ballpark in Houston hear a mysterious metallic banging …. (Matt Monitto, Bristol, Conn.)

Umbrella riddle: “What can you take on a plane, sir, if it is closed but not if it is open?” (Jesse Frankovich)

Blarification: Explaining something in all-caps. “The president walked back his earlier tweet with an unhinged blarification.” (Jesse Frankovich)


Clarifuscation: “Explaining” something by intentionally making it even more confusing. “Rather than release the report, the attorney general will repurpose it as an interpretive word cloud, accompanied by pantomime.” (Frank Osen)

Oraling: A 100 percent effective natural birth control method. (Jon Ketzner, Cumberland, Md.)

Peckuliarity: When a toad’s tool turned out to be a mushroom (Alan Duxbury, Carlisle, Pa.)

And Last: Har-bitrarily: How the Empress decides what’s funny. (Gary Crockett)

And even Laster: Armchair Loser: “Eh. I could be way funnier than those Style Invitational people. Now where’s the comics section?” (Jesse Frankovich)

Okay, one Lastest: Tiara lights: What the Empress needs, because she clearly didn’t see my fabulous entry! (Beverley Sharp)

Still running — deadline Monday night, Feb. 10: Our contest for jokes about typos or misheard words. See