language

There Oughta Be a Word for That (And Now There Is)

Sandra Stewart | September 23, 2012

It was a busy summer in Thinkshiftland. Our minds raced, and all kinds of things flew out as the wheels turned. The most fun (but still printable) were a few neologisms that we liked immediately and found ourselves using in conversation as time went on. Maybe they’ll strike a chord with you, too.

Mindfall: In a fit of tongue-tied incoherence, one of us inadvertently combined minefield and pitfall. The result turned out to be more apt than either. A mindfall is a mental hazard, a dangerous pit or landscape that will push your thinking completely the wrong way if you wander into it; mindfall can also refer to the experience of that happening. “That aspect of the project is a mindfall—the obvious approach is not going to work” or “You must have had a real mindfall developing that creative brief if you had to start over halfway through.”

Brain flurries: Brain flurries are quick, scattered ideas of uncertain utility or applicability. They tend to happen after too much stimulation or, conversely, as a result of mental fatigue. “Shed had too much coffee this morning and hit me with a barrage of brain flurries as soon as I walked in the door” or “I think we need to let this rest for a while; all I have left are brain flurries.”

Kerfluffle: A kerfuffle (only one l) is a commotion, disturbance or fuss; the two-l kerfluffle is the same, but it’s much ado about nothing. “It was just a big kerfluffle—turns out he was talking about the New York Giants.”

Thinkbomb: Ever been in a meeting toward the end of a project where someone who hadn’t been involved up to that point threw out a “suggestion” (read: idée fixe) that required going back to the beginning? That suggestion was a thinkbomb. “The new VP threw out a thinkbomb—it might push out the launch. I’ll tell you about it after my medication kicks in.”

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