Verb for sarcasm:
March 9, 2001 8:06 AM   Subscribe

Verb for sarcasm: It's a good idea. It's missing from the English language. Not anymore.
posted by borgle (30 comments total)
Really lame self-promoting effort there, borgle., home of the user borgle, is registered to Scott Hendrickson. Scott Hendrickson is also a credited contributor to the site linked above. I wonder if the credited comment on the site is Hendrickson's? Oh look, it is. Surprise.

To make this comment more productive: what compels people to neologize and to work overtime propagating those neologisms? Is this how people want to go down in history? "He coined the phrase..." I think people lead tiny lives and they'll take any variation on fame they can get.

[But you know, an amazing number of those obitutaries that say "The dead Mr. Joe Blow is known for coining the word..." are wrong. The guy didn't invent the word or phrase. Those kinds of sad sacks are like those people who tell you about the tough battles in Grenada and their secret special forces work and how they were in the Yankees farm system for while. And kind of like a child's mind: "Anything I think comes from within me; therefore, it must be of me, by me and original to me."]

I manage a site concerning language and dialects and I get at least one message a month from people who say they just "found" a really cool word and would I make sure it gets included in the dictionary. Yech. I've got the Internet, Lexis-Nexis, Dow Jones News Retrieval, transcript services, JSTOR, MUSE, an English language corpus, the full OED and 14 specialized dictionaries at my disposal. If an English word ain't in there somewhere, it ain't anywhere.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:00 AM on March 9, 2001

Obviously, they're joking, but the entry on "sarcasticate" does point out a serious problem in English today: creeping suffixes. If people did start using the verb form, then some almost certainly would say "sarcastication" instead of "sarcasm," and for God's sake, why?

My ex-wife used to get very upset when people would say "epidemiological" (this was one of her more endearing qualities). She was an epidemiologist, and she insisted that the word should be "epidemiologic." The "al" didn't bother me that much, although it was fun to try to work "epidemioloicalistic" into a sentence just to see what would happen. And then sometimes, I'd call her an "epidemiologistician."

But I digress. Because of the increasingly complicated nature of our world, language automatically becomes more complicated. New words pop up all over the place to describe new phenomena. Simple language is a virtue and a pleasure. To the extent possible, we should ameliorate the growing complexity by refusing to create longer forms of the same word.

posted by anapestic at 9:07 AM on March 9, 2001

Actually, I thought that Kinko's made it clear that any noun can be a verb (no matter how ridiculous) so long as it's used at the end of the sentence.

Remember "the new way to office"?

So I guess you could say "Joe, all you ever do is sarcasm when you talk." "Emulating Reginald in the Saki short stories is the preferred way to sarcasm." "Sheah, right," Joe sarcasmed acidly.
posted by ethmar at 9:19 AM on March 9, 2001

Personally, I love new words (contrived or found).

But sarcasticate? What the hell... can't we have something shorter?

I'd rather have "sarcate"... granted, that would lead to the idea that the noun would be "sarcation". How about "sarc"... "Don't sarc, Stevie... sarcasm is so not 'you'."

Just a thought.
posted by silusGROK at 9:27 AM on March 9, 2001

Just for the books... sarcasm comes from a Greek idea "to bite one's lip in rage", and shares it's root with "sarcophagus".
posted by silusGROK at 9:32 AM on March 9, 2001

Sounds like it could have come straight from George W.
posted by e.payne at 9:38 AM on March 9, 2001

how about sarcasticize?

Oh wait, that's the new Janeane Garofalo workout...
posted by jpoulos at 9:53 AM on March 9, 2001

Gr. sark- = "flesh". I once ran a little poetry magazine called "Sarkos" (can't remember why it was called that).

The trouble with a word like "sarcasticate" is that it's not funny. Reflect on Ring Lardner's (I think) 'Shut up,' he explained. That's funny. The sarcasm verb should be sarcastic, which means it should appear to express shiny happy emotions: chirp, perhaps, or cheer:

"Oh, yeah, the English language really needs that!" chirped CrayDrygu. "That's so useful!" she cheered.

posted by rodii at 10:00 AM on March 9, 2001

posted by zempf at 10:16 AM on March 9, 2001

I withdraw my comment... and second rodii's.

(Man. Two props for rodii in one day... people are going to start talking!)
posted by silusGROK at 10:16 AM on March 9, 2001

I happened to bring my Greek lexicon to work (don't ask). There are two similar Greek verbs:

sarkasdo - "to tear flesh like dogs" appears in Aristophanes.
sarkisdo - "to strip off the flesh" appears in Herodotus

The meanings are similar and I don't want to get into a lengthy discussion about ablaut or laryngeal theory concerning the vowel in the penultimate syllable, but I like the second meaning more.
posted by MarkAnd at 10:18 AM on March 9, 2001

Deliberately coining new words and phrases is a good way to determine your social pull in your peer group. I once intentionally tried to popularize the word "nilf" in high school.

It's an acronym for Non-Intelligent Life Form, and it never really took off the way I had hoped it would. Thus proving my complete irrelevance in high school, a trend which has continued to this very day.

posted by Jart at 10:24 AM on March 9, 2001 extension, if sarcasm turned into an intransitive verb becomes "sarcasticate", would orgasm become "orgasticate"?

e.g. "...she orgasticated again and again....."

Oh, yeah, I'm so hot now....... (that was me sarcasticating)
posted by briank at 10:27 AM on March 9, 2001

When did a man?
When did a man not want but to invent
A word that would make those throng'd masses sigh
Whenever 'twas delivered and would try
To use that word each hour and not repent?
When did a man not want but to invent
A word that would make lovers awe-sturck cry?
Did not a man dream his word would ne'er die
In speech of kings wise and dukes eminent?
Thus did a good borgle self blog! How fresh!
And thus release the spore of his new word.
What end for one who hath unwisely spasm'd?
We need not resort to stripping of flesh!
"Like I would say that!" Its demise is assured.
And now, good borgle, thou hast been sarcasm'd!
(A Petrarchan sonnet, with apologies to Petrarch. Why should haiku get all the press?)
posted by iceberg273 at 10:54 AM on March 9, 2001

What's wrong with "be/being sarcastic"? If it ain't broke dont fix it.
posted by redleaf at 12:01 PM on March 9, 2001

I was going to point out the classic Calvin and Hobbes storyline about verbing nouns (and other language fun) but apparently it's not online yet.
posted by daveadams at 12:49 PM on March 9, 2001

I've used "sarcast" before, when the sentence I wanted to say demanded its use. "Sarcasticate" is too long and clunky, and sounds manufactured.

Mo: while I agree that pushing fabricated words into regular use is annoying and pointless, sparing use of disposable neologisms can add witty spice to one's writing.

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:50 PM on March 9, 2001

I think 'sarcast' would be a person who frequently employs sarcasm.

And is there some kind of award we can give iceberg273?
posted by EngineBeak at 1:07 PM on March 9, 2001

I think 'sarcast' would be a person who frequently employs sarcasm.

And is there some kind of award we can give iceberg273?
posted by EngineBeak at 1:07 PM on March 9, 2001

This reminds me of the skit (either on Saturday Night Live or In Living Color) where someone (either Chris Rock or Damon Wayons) was parodying, ostensibly, Louis Farrakhan. Throught the entire skit, half of the words were made up with lots of superfluous suffixes being bandied about. I can't find reference to it anywhere on the web. Google you have failed me.
posted by fooljay at 1:08 PM on March 9, 2001

That Netscape - great browser, just really tremendous.
posted by EngineBeak at 1:08 PM on March 9, 2001

Only our undying and eternal affection. That was truly wonderful.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:09 PM on March 9, 2001

Enginebeak, don't get me started. :-X
posted by fooljay at 1:25 PM on March 9, 2001

Tom the dancing bug on sarcasm.
posted by john at 1:26 PM on March 9, 2001

Iceberg definitely needs an award... he linked to me personally....


I didn't even realize that there were hashed anchors in Matt's code. Cool.

- v
posted by silusGROK at 3:34 PM on March 9, 2001

posted by ookamaka at 6:48 PM on March 9, 2001

Fooljay, it was Damon Wayons, but I can't remember the character's name.

Wasn't there originally a Ms. Malaprop?
posted by jragon at 9:43 PM on March 9, 2001

jragon: Wasn't there originally a Ms. Malaprop?

Mrs. Malaprop was from a Richard Brinsley Sheridan play, The Rivals. She didn't add suffixes, though. She was just prone to mispronouncement, for example:

“She's as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile.”
posted by MarkAnd at 5:06 AM on March 10, 2001

(Sorry, Cray)
posted by rodii at 8:36 AM on March 10, 2001

If sarcasm still needs a verb, how about "sarcastrate," to cut someone off at the, um, by means of sarcasm.
posted by kindall at 11:20 AM on March 10, 2001

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