Is the neologism "trepidacious" now a real word? Why wasn't it before?

My girlfriend and I just heard John Goodman use the word “trepidacious” on James Lipton’s show. Yet I remember a stern seventh-grade English teacher telling me, “trepidacious is not a word,” for reasons never explained.

Well, it’s beginning to look as if the maligned word has made its way into the American lexicon, at least, as both my girlfriend and John Goodman use it, despite my tender admonitions. What rule of English does the word break which prevents it from being accepted? And is my girlfriend really vinicated, or is she still just sporting a Rolls Royce on blocks in her verbal front lawn?

Trepidacious is not a word, it’s a faulty conjugation of trepidation. However, ain’t isn’t a word either but despite the preachings of mothers and English teachers everywhere it is in the dictionary. I guess if a piece of broken English is said long enough it weasels it’s way into the lexicon. I don’t think ‘trepidacious’ applies quit yet though.

Why do you think ain’t isn’t a word? Or do you just mean it’s only informal, like groovy?

What is the correct adjective form of trepidation, then?

Trepidosity? Trepidationalisitic? Trepidationary?

“With trepidation”. It’s two words, but it’s shorter than a couple of Q.E.D.'s ideas. :slight_smile:

I knew that. I was being silly. :wink:

wwftd = worthless word for the day

I thought this would be interesting to share.

Regarding words entering into the dictionary, I was told by an english professor many years ago that a dictionary is not a rule book. It’s purpose was to reflect the common usage of words at a particular point in time. “Ain’t” is not a proper contraction, but its common usage has caused its entry into modern dictionaries.

Trepid is the adjective whose nominalized form is trepidation. It is less common than its antonym intrepid. But still a perfectly serviceable word. It means the same thing as the back-formation trepidatious, and gets there with two fewer syllables.

I just followed Setherghd’s link and see that it reaches the same conclusion.

hello; I am the wwftd webmaster, and this is what I wrote when trepidacious was the worthless word for the day:

the worthless word for the day is: trepidacious

fearful; agitated; trembling: trepid

this neologism has yet to be recognized by
lexicographers; in fact it is on the Vocabula
Review’s Worst Words list – but it gets a few
hundred Google® hits, and lots of folks attempt to
look it up at OneLook®.

I’d say, if you need something that means not intrepid,
and can’t bear fearful, why not go back to the root?
trepid is a far better choice in many ways.

through an arrangement with the folks at OneLook, the
word can now be found there, complete with disclaimer!

** tsuwm**, I read your column on this today, but for some reason I failed to understand that there is a quite viable alternative word.

If I follow your line of thought, trepidacious is actually a word closely akin to “re-orientate,” which is supposed to be “reorient.” Am I on the right track?

And thank you, thank you very much for your contribution. Why don’t you stick around awhile?

>reorientate “is supposed to be” reorient

This sort of statement falls on fallow ground, unless it’s being farmed by prescriptivists. John Goodman is probably just another linguistic dotterel trying to be clever; or he may have known exactly what he was saying. There’s just no knowing anymore, and we have Humpty Dumpty to thank for it all.

All’s I can say is that my personal preference, in this instance, would be trepid.

BTW, orientate is very much a transpondian preference – they do like to add those extra letters and syllables over there (and then forget to pronounce them on occasion ; ).

…the who what and the what now?

Trepidacious is featured in as a word

Spelling: Trepidatious. First attested 1904. It wasn’t in my 1990 M-W, but has apparently swayed the editors since then. Looks like they haven’t bought of on spelling it with a “c.” Yet.

(Yeah, it’s an old thread. So what?)

Sanitation has been a real word since the mid-1800s.

Sanitize, however, did not exist until the mid 20th century by ad executives for tv commercials regarding cleaning products.

If a word follows the rules of grammar and clearly conveys the correct idea, the word is valid.

Well, then OP’s girlfriend is vinicated.

There was once a facetious group called the Society for the Restoration of Lost Positives, which encouraged the use of words like “couth”, “kempt”, “shevelled”, and my favorite, “gruntled”.