Friday, September 5, 2014

Pecksniffian: An Author's Highest Honor


This is an actual word. I'm not making it up, I swear. I can't even remember where I first heard it, but I do remember thinking whoever invented it might have been sniffing glue. 

The word's true origin is a way better story.
Pecksniffian: Uncuously hypocritical (Merriam-Webster)
                Affecting benevolence or high moral principles. (Oxford English)

This word is derived from the name Seth Pecksniff, a character in Charles Dickens' Martin Chuzzlewit. This, I think, is one of the highest honors society can bestow upon an author.

Book sales are great. Seeing your name in huge print on the cover of your baby would be wonderful, and listening to readers tell how your words affected their lives would be amazing. 

But for one of your characters to have such a huge impact on society in general that they turn his name into an adjective, that the easiest way someone thinks they can relate a real world situation to their peers is to use your character as the ultimate example?

That is a true success for a writer. 

I'm not ashamed to admit I want this to happen to 'Rodney'. How fun would that be?

"Don't be such a Rodney, Adrian," Sharona could tell Mr. Monk. "It's just a little dirt."

"Quit the Rodney freakout, Indy," Marian Ravenwood would complain, "They're snakes."

"Sorry I Rodneyed," I might say, red in the face after fleeing from a bumblebee.

It could happen, right?

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