Here's the Scoop: Aug. 25, 2010

Stolen word of advice
Imagine my surprise the other day when I came across a story that stated, “The bookworms behind the Oxford Dictionary of English recently released a list of 2,000 or so new words that will be added to their next edition. Some of the new words include staycation, social media and the groan-inducing chillax.”

I must take exception to that last one. Sure, it’s not the best word I’ve ever heard (double-cheeseburger takes that prize, if hyphenating is allowed), but it’s kind of cool — literally and figuratively.

Chillax, for those of you who are a little slow in the trend department, is a combination of “chill out” and “relax.”

I swelled with pride knowing that a word I had originated had achieved dictionary status. This is not meant as bragging, but I felt it was only a matter of time before a word I invented made its way into the dictionary.

Unfortunately, many of the words I come up with have been inspired by my use (misuse?) of tools during home repair projects and would only qualify for the X-rated portion of the word catalog. They are good, though. I’ve written some down, if anyone is interested.

In the meantime, I was satisfied to learn the chillax had made the cut. Then I began to wonder how the dictionary folks had learned about this term. Honestly, the word never caught fire with the public like I assumed it would. But someone must be using it.

Excuse me
Further research into the story revealed some disturbing information: “The term ‘chillax’ can be traced as far back as 2001. A writer/comedian by the name of Laz Viciedo claims to have coined this phrase after a spat with his then-girlfriend and then used later on stage during a performance. According to the story she hated it when he told her to ‘relax,’ in turn he corrected this behavior by then telling her to ‘chill.’ The new result seem to upset her even more which resulted in Laz finally telling her to ‘chillax.’ Their relationship ended soon after. Laz is now on a worldwide campaign to officially be recognized for coming up with the term.”

Go back and reread that last paragraph. You will see someone else’s name attached to the word I invented. I don’t blame the guy for taking credit — it’s just that he’s wrong.
The Wikipedia entry describing the word’s (alleged) origin also adds a note: Any video evidence or anything? If not, someone could simply claim to have used it in 2000 or 1999 or 1998. Exactly!

Well, I don’t remember the date when I conjured up “chillax,” but it was certainly before Laz Vicideo says he came up with the word. Sorry, Laz.

What proof do I have? Ha, ask me again!

Unfortunately, my word invention occurred before it could be easily cataloged on the News website. But I seem to recall using the term in a column a decade or so ago. Of course, skeptics will counter with “riiiiiiggggghhhhtttt” and roll their eyes. So would I.

That’s why, in case I can’t find the evidence in the News’ archives, I have another form of evidence.
You see, back when my daughter was valedictorian of her high school class in 2000 (shameless proud father plug there), the school had started a tradition. I’m not sure that it is still carried on, but back then the honor graduates were asked to wedge a “made-up” word into their commencement speech. Guess what word she used?

I, personally, was not an honors graduate, but I did well enough in math to realize that 2000 comes before 2001. So, Laz Vicideo is going to have to chillax with his claim of making up this word — we’ve got the speech and hundreds of witnesses. I’m having the Laz laugh on this one.
— Brian Sweeney