Monday, October 8, 2007

Coined and Purloined Words

I didn't give the title of the piece "Plumbophobia" too much thought, thinking to create a clever combination of plumbum, the Latin word for the element lead, and the current fear or phobia of lead in toys which has been receiving much prominence of late in the US media.

On a whim, I googled the word and discovered precisely 3 links to it. One was my post on Accidental Blogger, the next was a link to somebody's blog post about a plumbing nightmare overcome despite the poster's 'plumbophobia', and the third an obscure reference to a page in an 1874 published book along with other mysterious words that are hardly used these days 'rancomania' and 'siderophobia'(fear of stars).

The Wiktionary suggested that since there was no reference to it, I should enter it as a protologism. But my usage ( closer to convention than the other reference in the plumbing post), I feel, is a neologism.

And so, I give you, a contemporary definition for 'Plumbophobia'- [LL. plumbum - lead, Gr. phobos- fear](1874) - 1. fear of lead. 2. aversion to plumbing


Anonymous said...

Interesting, as someone with an actual fear of lead, I always referred to it as 'molybdophobia', from the Greek for lead. There are now 2 pages of books up there that use 'plumbophobia', I may switch over for clarity!

Sujatha said...

Confusion would arise from the fact that 'Molybdenum' is a separate element from lead on the periodic table. So, even with bizarre mixing of Latin and Greek roots, it makes better sense to use plumbophobia to denote 'fear of lead'.