At the Academy Awards this year actor Sacha Baron Cohen, acting in the personality that headlines his new movie The Dictator, dumped an urn of ashes (supposedly those of Kim Jong-il) on Ryan Seacrest. In a highly-publicized You-Tube rant, an incensed Donald Trump said Cohen should have been “punched in the face” and implied that security at the event should have put the British comic in a hospital. Here is the clip:
However, the best part of Trump’s rant was his quote about Vanity Fair’s after-party: “Nobody enjoyed it, there was no good feeling, and it’s really, like, symblomatic of what happened to Vanity Fair” (emphasis mine).
Kudos to Trump for the new neologism! A neologism is defined as a new word that is in the process of entering common use but is not yet mainstream. My prediction is symblomatic is on its way to stardom, especially given its royal birth!
While symblomatic appears to be a combination of symbolic, symptomatic and emblematic, the end result sounds so familiar that many news postings appeared to think it was a real word and did not flag it (despite the fact that their spell check probably highlighted it). How did that sneak by so many observers?
Donald being Donald aside, what happened may actually demonstrate a well-known marketing principle: familiarity breeds liking. Symblomatic sounds very familiar and so people may have just assumed that Brilliant Mr. Trump knew what he was talking about, and let it go. Perhaps we even liked the word, and some of us may have already adopted it into our vocabulary (I have gone one step further and purchased www.symblomatic.com). In any case, if something sounds familiar to your ear, you are more likely to accept it without challenge.
When Stephen Colbert used “truthiness” in a segment of his show, he recognized that it sounded like an exaggeration of “truth” and so he was going for comic effect. But he probably did not anticipate the public reaction he got—in fact, “truthiness” was selected as the 2005 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. Could “symblomatic” become the 2012 Word of the Year?
Now that would be symblomatic of something big!