Of Jeggings, Murses and Starchitecture: The Smush Factor in Naming


When it comes to capturing cultural trends, I’m a big fan of the compressed compound name. (Otherwise known as smushing two words together.) Well done, it has a certain jaunty tidiness. And by juxtaposing snippets of words from realms that previously didn’t mingle, it telegraphs new phenoms in a phenomenally elegant way.

Take jeggings (jeans + leggings). Now there’s a name as implacably minimalist as the stern items in question, which can reduce the fleshiest of thighs to the most tightly compressed versions of themselves physically possible while still allowing blood to flow.

Or how about murse. . . Whether used to describe a male nurse or a male purse, it instantly infuses a dark thread of testosterone into formerly female territory.

And then there’s starchitecture. Can you think of a more economical term for distilling the (now-waning) public appetite for trophy buildings created by superstar architects? It’s both reportage—and review—in 14 little letters. Neat.


Do your favorite pet names date from 10, 100, or 1000 years ago?
Who could resist the opportunity to weigh in on a new pasta shape name?