Making Up New Words: Syrtixious


I took this photo at the La Brea Tar Pits. I bet those mammoths knew what it felt like to be Syrtixious

I took this photo at the La Brea Tarpits. I bet there were a few mammoths who found out what it felt like to be Syrtixious.

I happened across this info-graphic a week or so ago that I thought was interesting. It focuses on the words for emotions: specifically words that we lack, in English, for emotions that we experience. I often think about this topic. I am very particular about what words I use- sometimes to the point of stopping a conversation to think of the right word to express what I am trying to say.

I find it especially frustrating, when I am trying to explain something  complex or subtle and I am forced to slap a big fat categorical label on it. Am I really feeling “Stressed” or am I actually feeling distracted and overwhelmed because my attention is being drawn in too many directions? Is this the same kind of “Stressed” as the feeling of being in conflict with another person in a situation over which I have no control? Because I have to use the same word for both.

“Stress” in particular is a word I find extremely distasteful because it has so many potential meanings that in actuality it means nothing at all. It is the socially-appropriate negative equivalent to “Fine”.

How are you?

Fine. (Good, thank you, lets move on with the conversation).

How are you?

Stressed. (Poorly, thank you, please ask me no more questions).

So in an effort to be more articulate about Stress I am proposing a new word: Syrtixious.

Syrtixious describes the sensation that precedes real Stress or Anxiety. It is the state in which you are aware of one or more approaching obstacles and the knowledge that your actions now will affect your ability to navigate them successfully. The inability to gain traction in a situation where momentum is of the utmost importance.

It is a combination of the word “Syrtis” and “Anxious”. The Syrtis Sands were an area of the Mediterranean avoided by Greek sailors because of shifting and unpredictable sands that made it easy to sail in and impossible to sail back out again. I found it when I was looking up a Latin word for “quicksand” which seemed to be the closest equivalent to what it felt like to try to make decisions without enough information.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on January 21, 2013.

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