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Language of Air Contest Winners


The Gymnasium held a nation-wide contest in 2014 for the public to submit new words to a Language of Air Word Contest. These words, winning and otherwise,  are part of a crowd-sourced, ongoing effort to invent new words to describe the heretofore un-explored qualities of air.

Announcing the winning word in the Language of AIR Contest…

Congratulations to John Capecci of Minneapolis for his winning word:

GPSence | jē • pē • `esǝns |  noun
the singular blend of air quality, texture and smells identified with a specific metropolitan location or region:

“Now, I know we’re in San Francisco,” Kimi sighed, closing her eyes and enjoying the familiar GPSence of bay laurel, the slight crackle of sea air, soy sauce, and urine.”
(see also Urbaceous)

Here are the two runners up…

Memair |  me-MAIR | noun

It’s a simple combination of the words “memory” and “air”; a smell that triggers a strong sense of nostalgia.

“The sweet, almost peppery scent of lilacs wafts over the chain link fence and Jocelyn stops to pick a bunch, transported by the memair of the lilacs that lined the driveway of her childhood home.”

Preston Drum

Aquaminous | ah-KWA-mi-nuhs | adjective

The quality of air just before a rainfall; origin: the Latin aqua, meaning water, and ominous, meaning foreboding.

“The sky was heavy and dark, and the air felt aquaminous, giving Deborah doubts about the prospects for today’s picnic.”

Mo Perry

Honorable Mention…

Wairmy | ware-mee | adjective
Air having the heavy smell of worms, usually on summer mornings after a rainstorm.
Origin: Old English wyrm, dragon, serpent, worm; cognate with Dutch worm, German Wurm, Old Norse ormr; akin to Latin vermis

“Louise, who suffered from a severe form of vermiphobia, would not leave the house on summer mornings after a heavy rain. She could not bear the thought of negotiating sidewalks strewn with the thick, sluggish bodies of worms, littered about like confetti after a parade, and even the air, wairmy and wet, was suffocating.”                                                                              Pamela Patton

Whizmay | wiz-MEY | verb (used with object) or noun.
Inability to take delight in watching fireworks, caused by guilt over the pollution they cause.
Origins: whiz, imitative sound of something moving by swiftly; and dismay, agitation of mind.

“As José looked up at the glowing sky, he wondered if he was the only one in his family prone to whizmay.”     Kate Tarker

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