I generally have no interest in the cute coinages people keep coming up with, usually by blending two other words to achieve some strained and unnecessary meaning: beducation or whatever. Every once in a while, though, somebody invents a word that meets a hitherto unrealized need; such a word was Walpole’s “serendipity” (first written down in a letter of January 28, 1754, exactly 250 years ago today!), and such a word (or prospective word) is “igry,” invented by John Chaneski, Peter Gordon, Kevin West, and Francis Heaney some time back with the meaning ‘painfully embarrassed for or uncomfortable about someone else’s incredibly poor social behavior, or descriptive of such poor social behavior.’ Heaney gives this example:
Like, say you’re at a restaurant, and one of the people at your table summons the waiter by snapping their fingers. Watching this makes you die a little inside. You feel igry. (Or you might think, “What an igry thing to do.”)
In the Mark Liberman post at Language Log that introduced me to the word, Heaney expands as follows:
…when I see someone I respect writing about “reigning in one’s impulses” or something, it does make me feel embarrassed for them, and it definitely generates a little of that dying-inside feeling that is the core of igriness. Limiting my definition to merely reactions to poor behavior might be too narrow. Like, here’s another f’rinstance: watching the trailer to the new Ben Stiller movie makes me igry, not because the subject matter of the movie seems offensive, but because it just pains me so much that Ben Stiller keeps taking such embarrassing roles in crappy movies.
I think the utility of this word is obvious. And I should mention that it will put paid to “the goddamn -gry riddle,” which was in fact the impetus for the word’s creation. Use it today!
Addendum. A comment by stripe in this MonkeyFilter thread refers to a problem I myself have with Heaney’s definition:
The definition seems strained. Something somebody else does can “make you feel igry” but yet their action is “igry” as well? Adjectives aren’t normally used this way: if somebody else does something ‘dumb’, it doesn’t cause you to ‘feel dumb’. There’s probably a reason for this and the reason is that if you don’t specify the causation of the ‘igryness’ you can’t tell if it’s caused by the person feeling it. It would be better to say somebody else’s behavior ‘is igrying’ or ‘igryifying’ (probably the former) but how on earth do you pronounce them?
I think the phrase “or descriptive of such poor social behavior” should be deleted, and the thought of the sloppily formed definition makes me a little igry.
Further addendum. Chuck Welch of BlogJazz contributes a haiku to the cause.