SNP’s word of the day: Wackaloon

Illustration by Lewis Mirrett
Illustration by Lewis Mirrett

Word: Wackaloon

Meaning: Something to be worn, but not to be believed.

Usage: “You can tell if something is ‘directional’; if it looks completely wackaloon at first, but then six months later everyone in your 10:30 meeting is wearing it. ” — Wordnik’s Erin McKean to The Fashion Spot.

You should know it because: Yesterday I was on CBC Radio Q with Jian Ghomeshi to talk about fashion writing and semiotics and embarrassingly name-drop Saussure and say “Right? Right.” a hundred times. Reason being, I wrote this article for the Toronto Standard (where I’m the style editor; I really like working, guys) on how the reliance on superlatives and clichés in fashion writing is resulting in what I call “language inflation.” What does perfect mean if everything is “soooo perfect?” Who really “needs” the new Isabel Marant sneaker? Things like that. Anyway, I had to explain myself, and you can listen to it here. Or you can not listen to me. Other word nerds are lamenting the superlative tendency in fashion writing, too, like Wordnik founding editor Erin McKean.

In McKean’s piece, she uses the adorable made-up word “wackaloon” to describe the kinds of things Man Repeller wears: a peplum over a pencil skirt over flared pants with a jacket made entirely of fur pom-poms and 65 Dannijo necklaces, for example. Wackaloon sounds like pantaloon plus “you’re crazy, woman,” which I like. (I’m talking about good crazy, not hysteria, natch.) And, more to my original point, making up new words for new looks spares us having to reuse and devalue the good old words.

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