The Compulsive Copyeditor

July 9, 2010

Coining a Word (Well, Trying To)

Filed under: language evolving,new words,other languages,vocabulary — amba12 @ 6:13 pm

For those who missed it on Twitter, or who didn’t but can stand to think about it a little more, I asked if there was a word for someone who shares your exact birthday — day and year  (someone, that is, who’s not your actual twin) — and if not, whether we could come up with one.

Disclaimer:  of course, you can invent words till you’re blue in the face, but there is no guarantee that any of them has that effanineffable whatchamacallit that will make it catch on.  Catching on is also about context; there are vehicles — certain TV shows and movies; viral videos; disasters, scandals and gaffes — that have the mojo to drive their contents, both words and images, home into the end zone, the Zeitgeist and the vernacular, whether they merit such pawn-queening apotheosis or not.

Ann Althouse was born on the same exact day as Rush Limbaugh.  I was introduced to Jacques, indirectly, because of a guy who I learned only much later was my . . .

connascent, Chicken Little’s good coinage — probably the best so far; or

day-double — my Anglo-Saxon alternative, in turn inspired by Jason (the commenter’s)

birthdaygänger, as in Doppelgänger.

Other suggestions of varying seriousness:

soul sister what Ruth Anne’s father called his connascent, Audrey Hepburn, which made me think of


Mitgeburtstag, Chicken Little’s stab at what the Germans would call it, and

Zeitzwilling (time-twin), mine, ditto;

homonatal, my lame attempt at a temporal version of “homeboy”

star-crossed, star-linked, or star-siblings, from reader_iam, and in the same vein,

ZodiacXerox from the inimitable KngFish.

Co-incident and contemporary were suggested by reader and by @dustbury, respectively, but were deemed too nonspecific.

More suggestions?  I can imagine a compound using natal (conatal?  connatal?  sounds NSFW, somehow) or arrival, f’rinstance, but I can’t come up with one.  Co-arriviste would mean something quite different.

Have at it.  And tell whether you feel a bond with someone you discover was born your same day, or whether it seems like meaningless coincidence.  Also welcome:  examples of famous connascents (Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln!).  And then of course we need a companion word for people who die on the same day (John Adams and Thomas Jefferson).  Comorbid?  No, no.  Conatal and comortal?  Croakmates?  Crap, why is it easier to think of good words for death than birth?


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