In a year that’s transformed our lives so greatly that you can’t watch a Christmas romcom without shuddering at the lack of social distancing in the tinkling sleigh, it’s not surprising that our language has changed as well. And of course our pals at Merriam-Webster are on the case. Below is a list of some of the words and phrases (including new usages for existing ones) added this year to the dictionary at m-w.com, along with a link to each full definition. This week: Write a poem of eight lines or fewer featuring one or more of these terms, as in the two-part example above by Julia Griffin, queen of Light magazine’s topical Poems of the Week at lightpoetrymagazine.com.
The terms must be used as they’re defined in the new m-w.com listing; e.g., “novel” needs to mean “not previously identified,” not only “new and fresh” or “what I will definitely write one of these days.” You may use a closely related form of the word, like a plural or adverb.
Submit up to 25 entries at wapo.st/enter-invite-1413 (no capitals in the Web address). Deadline is Monday, Dec. 14; results appear Jan. 3 in print, Dec. 31 online.
Winner gets the Clowning Achievement, the new Style Invitational trophy that we introduce today. The sorry-faced bozo replaces the Lose Cannon, which got its name from a Trumply spelled Trump tweet about Hillary Clinton; like its inspiration, it’s been with us since 2017 and we’d think it’s high time to put it behind us. There will be only 100 Clowning Achievements, since that’s how many “retired” little clown heads the Empress was able to score from some craft shop’s online clearance sale. Based on an idea by Loser Kevin Dopart.
Second place wins a box of Clamdy Canes — yup, clam-flavored candy canes. They’re a holly jolly yucky ucky greige and white. Donated by Loser Edward Gordon.
The Style Conversational: The Empress’s weekly online column discusses each new contest and set of results. See this week’s at wapo.st/conv1413.
New “You’re Invited” podcast episode: An interview with Hall of Fame Loser Jeff Contompasis, who tells how he changed his Invite approach after getting no ink for eight years. See bit.ly/invite-podcast.
DECK THE HAllS: THE SHORTENED SONG TITLES OF WEEK 1409
In Week 1409 the Empress asked the Losers to drop one or more letters from the middle of a song title. Half a dozen people offered EVERY BreATH YOU TAKE — “I’ll be washing you”; numerous others suggested YESterDAY — “every day in the Trump White House.”
DON’T LET ME dOWN: John Lennon’s little-known first song to contain the lyric “Imagine no possessions . . .” (Stephen Litterst, Newark, Del.)
SleIGH RIDE: A song about the long drive home after Thanksgiving dinner with the in-laws. (Steve Smith, Potomac, Md.)
and the game What’s That Smell?:
I’M SO EXcITED: “I’m about to lose control, and I don’t