Style Invitational Week 1460: These new words are on fleek
Write a poem featuring one of Merriam-Webster’s new listings. Plus ‘Is that your...’ insults.

(Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
By Pat Myers
October 28, 2021 at 10:07 a.m. EDT

(Click here to skip down to the winning “Is that your ...” insults)

Sometimes, new words can delight.
But sometimes, new words kinda bite —
When they’re trendy and cloying
And downright annoying,
Such as this one right here — AMIRITE?

Once again, the folks at Merriam-Webster gave us a heads-up on some of the words and phrases (or new meanings for existing ones) just added this week to its online dictionary. So let’s play!

This week: From the list at the bottom of this page, write a humorous poem of eight lines or fewer featuring one or more of these terms, as in the example above by Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten, who deems it “the best humorous poem ever written” and “perhaps my greatest work ever.” Either look up the words at or click on the links in the online Invite at

May this cuddly covid be the only covid you’ll ever get.
May this cuddly covid be the only covid you’ll ever get.
Submit up to 25 entries at Deadline is Monday, Nov. 8; results appear Nov. 28 in print, Nov. 24 online.

Winner gets the Clowning Achievement, our Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives an adorable plush and squeezy-soft coronavirus, about the size of a softball (or 1 million times life-size). Full disclosure: The giant googly eyes on Pet SARS-CoV-2 are not strictly biologically accurate. Donated by Loser Dave Prevar.

Other runners-up win their choice of our “For Best Results, Pour Into Top End” Loser Mug or our “Whole Fools” Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get one of our new lusted-after Loser magnets, “A Small Jester of Appreciation” or “Close, but Ceci N’est Pas un Cigare.” First Offenders receive only a smelly tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). See general contest rules and guidelines at The headline “Mock-Mock Jokes” is by Jesse Frankovich; Chris Doyle 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; and follow @StyleInvite on Twitter.

The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column discusses each new contest and set of results. See this week’s at

And from The Style Invitational four weeks ago . . .

Mock-mock jokes: 'Is that your __, or ___?' winners
Week 1456 we asked for insult jokes roughly in the form of “Is that your ___, or ___?” The Empress is perhaps relieved that so many of you are really quite pathetic when it comes to trash-talking.

4th place:
Is that your car, or is Fred Flintstone walking to work now? (Jesse Rifkin, Arlington, Va.)

3rd place:
Is that your cooking I smell, or have we reached High Heaven? (Greg Dobbins, Boynton Beach, Fla.)

2nd place
and the crudely drawn FBI-NYPD mug:
Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you a Democrat? (Gary Crockett, Chevy Chase, Md.)

And the winner of the Clowning Achievement:
Is that your way of encouraging your child's self-expression, or did you fail to tip the exorcist? (Mark Raffman, Reston, Va.)

Sneer misses: Honorable mentions
Are those really your eyebrows, or did you use I Can’t Believe It’s Not a Sharpie? (Chuck Smith, Woodbridge, Va.)

Is that it, or do you always do a 10-second practice run? (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village, Md.)

Are those your biceps, or did your arms get matching mosquito bites? (Gary Crockett)

Is that your dog, or did you soak a rat in Rogaine? (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.)

Is that your living room, or did Hoarders release a Zoom background? (Ben Aronin, Washington)

Is that your reasoned opinion, or are you logic-hesitant? (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Is that your husband, or did the English fatberg finally calve? (Stephen Dudzik, Olney, Md.)

Are those your dance moves, or should I get the defibrillator? (Gary Crockett)

Is that a Great Dane sitting on your lap, or have you become good-looking? (Chiara Juster, Redmond, Ore., a First Offender)

Is that a toupee, or are you walking your Chia Pet? (Jon Gearhart, Des Moines; Scott Richards, Hollywood, Md.)

Did you just pick up after your dog, or are you wearing Chanel No. 2? (Jonathan Jensen, Baltimore)

Did your CEO just say something, or was that a paradigm-shifting game-changer that delivers impacting synergy for disrupters who move the needle and think outside the box? (Duncan Stevens, Vienna, Va.)

Do you always shovel your food into your mouth, or do you think this spaghetti is going to escape? (Dave Prevar, Annapolis, Md.)

Were you planning to clean up in here, or are you playing an elaborate game of Jenga with your dirty dishes? (Coleman Glenn, Huntingdon Valley, Pa.)

Have you finished your book, or do you still have some pages to color? (Frank Osen, Pasadena, Calif.)

Do you need a tissue, or are nose-stalactites now a thing? (Frank Osen)

Have you had Botox injections, or did you just not get my joke? (Nancy Della Rovere, Silver Spring, Md.)

Is she your trophy wife, or your participation-award wife? (Chuck Smith)

Is that a new deodorant you’re wearing, or is DARPA renting your armpits to research chemical weapons? (Bob Kruger, Rockville, Md.)

Is that a nickname, or were your parents huge fans of Dr. Seuss? (Eric Nelkin, Silver Spring, Md.)

Is that a picture of Your Mama, or do you donate to Adopt a Manatee? (Jeff Shirley, Richmond, Va.)

Is that your best Your Mama joke, or did Your Mama write that for you? (Tom Witte)

Is that my pizza, or did someone spill ketchup on an English muffin? (Steve Fahey, Olney, Md.)

Is that your beard, or was this your first time eating ramen? (Hannah Seidel, Alexandria, Va.)

Is that your boyfriend, or is somewhere a wooden bridge lonely for its lost troll? (Lawrence McGuire)

Is that your DIY sealing job, or did the Exxon Valdez run aground in your driveway? (Chris Damm, Charles Town, W.Va.)

Is that your face, or are you setting the record for world’s longest mooning? (Seamus O’Connor, Arlington, Va.)

Is that your football team’s owner, or did Snidely Whiplash and Harvey Weinstein have a son? (Duncan Stevens)

Is that your hair, or have you not dusted your head for a few weeks? (Hannah Seidel)

Is that your idea of sex, or are you worried about a shot clock violation? (Jeff Shirley)

Is that your lawn, or are you doing Scorched Earth for Halloween? (Edward Gordon, Austin)

Is that your new tux, or did the Penguin have an estate sale? (Frank Mann, Washington)

Is that your Postal Service improvement plan, or did you copy from Dr. Kevorkian’s how-to guide? (Bruce Carlson, Alexandria, Va.)

Is that a selfie, or were you checking for nose hairs? (Craig Matthiessen, Burke, Va.)

Is that your shirt, or is it Bring Your Own Tablecloth night at the diner? (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)

Is that your trampoline, or did you borrow it to put on your makeup? (Lee Graham, Rockville, Md.)

Is this your wedding reception, or is “Squid Game” filming a second season? (Todd DeLap, Fairfax, Va.)

Is that a Fitbit on your wrist, or is your fence electrified? (Craig Dykstra, Centreville, Va.)

Is that your idea of a witty riposte, or are you just not very good at coming up with, like, clever, um, you know, comments in the, uh, moment? (Malcolm Fleschner, Palo Alto, Calif.)

Is that your sphynx cat, or did you breed your mole rat to Gollum? (Michelle Christophorou, Guildford, England)

Is that your old Kia, or are you trying to fool the ladies by pretending to undercompensate? (Jeff Shirley)

And Last: Is that your kindergartner’s art project, or did you win The Style Invitational again? (Hannah Seidel)

And Even Laster: Is that your weekly “humor contest,” or is a Russian troll farm at work undermining American society? (Gabriel Goldberg, Falls Church, Va.)

Still running — deadline also Nov. 8: Our contest for first-person songs. See

DON’T MISS AN INVITE! Sign up here to receive a once-a-week email from the Empress as soon as The Style Invitational and Style Conversational go online every Thursday, complete with links to the columns.

BE THE STUFF OF LEGEND: Use these new words/ phrases/ abbreviations

Words and phrases (or those with new meanings) newly added to the dictionary; the links below go to its listings. For your poem in Week 1460, you may use related forms of the word, such as “flash frozen” as well as “flash freeze.”

air fryer
because (as a preposition, as in “because science”)
bit rot
dab (both the dance move and to inhale cannabis vapors)
dad bod
digital nomad
doorbell camera
elbow bump
flash freeze
fourth trimester
jacked (both excited and muscular)
on fleek
small ball
street food
the stuff of legend
vaccine hesitancy
vaccine passport
wiener roast