author: niplav, created: 2021-10-13, modified: 2024-05-04, language: multiple, status: in progress, importance: 1, confidence: other

This page is a grab-bag of puns, good bandnames, types of guy, idioms, linguistic prescriptivism, umeshisms, nominative determinisms, daygame openers, asymmetries in language…

Playing With Language

Title Idioms

Blog Posts




Better Names for Things

Although linguistic prescriptivism is technically a cardinal sin, I sometimes make exceptions if a word particularly annoys me. This is a list of such words and suggestions for better naming of the concepts they describe.


The name is already occupied by a philosophical tradition called "rationalism" which has very little relation to the collection of people on the internet usually called "rationalists". Also, the name seems to be quite pretentious to outsiders.


Further discussion here.


The word "Anarchism" is strongly connected with left libertarian anti-capitalist thought (such as described by Bakunin, Kropotkin and Proudhon) throughout most of history and most of the world. Radical supporters of capitalism describing themselves as anarchists seems to be a historical anomaly, and they might want to find a name that clashes less with already existing trains of political thought.

On the other hand, there has been a lot of debate about this perceived clash of terminology and it seems quite unlikely to change in the near future.


"Animal Rights"

From a consequentialist perspective, rights are usually seen as instrumental heuristics and not as terminal values. When people talk about animal rights, they usually mean leaving animals alone in the context of factory farming and opposing interventions in nature. However, Tomasik 2017 makes a striking case for intervening in nature due to the prevalence of extreme suffering, usually including highly invasive measures which would violate a naive concept of "animals rights". However, these interventions would be designed to increase total animal welfare.



Some feminists today claim that the patriarchy hurts both men and women. However, the word "patriarchy" strongly carries the connotation that men are solely responsible for this, which seems not entirely clear.


"Value Drift"

Most people understand an opposition "value drift" as a rejection of moral development, and it's not clear where the difference between the two lies. Perhaps there are different kinds of such drifts: "value drift", "motivation drift", "discipline drift" etc.


"Pick-Up Artistry"

Strictly speaking, the word "art" is generally overused and defiled by using it to describe kitsch, skill or practice. I personally would prefer it if people stopped using the word "art" to describe banal and common things. "Pick-Up Artistry" falls into this category. It is a skill that requires sometimes years of practice, but it is a fundamentally practical and goal-oriented activity, unlike most (if not all) art.



In the philosophy of consciousness, sentience can refer to the ability of any entity to have subjective perceptual experiences, or as some philosophers refer to them, "qualia". […] In the philosophies of animal welfare and rights, sentience implies the ability to experience pleasure and pain.

— English Wikipedia, “Sentience”, 2019

Very often, the word "sentience" is used to refer to the ability to feel pleasure or pain, or, to be more general, have experiences with a valence. However, the strict philosophical definition of "sentience" does not necessarily entail the ability to feel pleasure or pain, just that some qualia can be experienced. Although it is very often assumed that sentience necessarily entails pleasure and pain, it might still be worthwhile making a distinction between the two.

"Sentients" is usually defined as beings that are capable of subjectively perceiving or feeling by means of the senses. This includes not only beings capable of the feeling of being happy and/or unhappy, but also includes beings just capable of perceiving things without having any affective feeling. In principle, it is possible for some sentients to be capable of perceiving the external world but without feeling happy or unhappy. One could have sensations of perceiving different colours without enjoying or disliking seeing them; one could have the sensation of being touched or even being squeezed without feeling pain or pleasure. Such non-affective sentients really do not have any positive or negative welfare. Their welfare is necessarily zero, just like non- sentients. Hence, for the purpose here, the important dividing line is not between sentients and non-sentients, but between affective sentients and non-affective beings (sentient or non-sentient).

— Yew-Kwang Ng, “Towards Welfare Biology: Evolutionary Economics of Animal Consciousness and Suffering” p. 4, 1995

Thus, it seems desirable to differentiate between the ability to have subjective experiences ("sentience") and the ability to have affective subjective experiences.


Personal proposals:

Naming ASCII Characters

Programmers often have to use the ASCII special characters !"#\|%&'()*+,-./:;<=>?@[\]^_{|}~ and `. However, pronouncing/spelling out "exclamation mark" is cumbersome, which made programmers introduce (or use) their own names for these characters. Urbit, as always, drives the idea to its logical conclusion.

Let me propose some names, with the goal of selecting the most common name for the character that is only one syllable long:

No individual names yet, also two syllables:

Not sure:

Asymmetries in Languages



superstition, no substition or stition?

Only fishmongers, scaremongers, warmongers, cheesemongers, ironmongers, costermongers and fearmongers?

myopia, no youropia, heropia etc.

paradox, but not paragnosis, paratechnē and paraëpistēmē

some Xs, every X?

Types of Guy

Of Rationalist

In the Water Supply

“X is not about Y, it's about Z”

New Abbreviations



"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Just Rwanda."
"Just Rwanda who??"
"Just rwandering around!"


Quines and Not-Quines

                                         Noting "noting itself" itself  
                                 Noting "noting “noting itself” itself" itself  
                         Noting "noting “noting ‘noting itself’ itself” itself" itself  
                 Noting "noting “noting ‘noting »noting itself« itself’ itself” itself" itself  
         Noting "noting “noting ‘noting »noting ›noting itself‹ itself« itself’ itself” itself" itself  
 Noting "noting “noting ‘noting »noting ›noting 'noting itself' itself‹ itself« itself’ itself” itself" itself


Nominative Determinisms

Incorrect Plurals or Singulars People Use

The first word is the correct one, the second word is the one people often use instead.


Missing Words

We can test whether such words exist via gensim word2vec embeddings:

>>> import gensim.downloader
>>> model=gensim.downloader.load("glove-wiki-gigaword-50")
>>> model.most_similar(positive=["drinking" ,"feeding"], negative=["eating"])

[('water', 0.7137373089790344), ('alcohol', 0.680603563785553), ('sewage', 0.6791356205940247), ('streams', 0.6613353490829468), ('preventing', 0.658783495426178), ('stream', 0.6549322605133057), ('flow', 0.6541517376899719), ('feed', 0.6427099108695984), ('prevent', 0.6414331793785095), ('oxygen', 0.6339807510375977)] >>> model.most_similar(model["horny"]+model["satiated"]-model["hungry"]) [('augmentor', 0.7722139954566956), ('flesh-colored', 0.7714864015579224), ('dalmatic', 0.7516317367553711), ('falchion', 0.749862551689148), ('irremovable', 0.7393192052841187), ('16-cell', 0.7370430827140808), ('pinchos', 0.7362353801727295), ('cryptochrome', 0.7349831461906433), ('tatoos', 0.7349593639373779), ('red/black', 0.7319703102111816)]

From German
From English

2×2s, 2×3s and more

Great Words

Better Words


Abbreviations Turned Into Words

Good Bandnames

See also isomorphismes 2013.

Fake Esperanto Translations

Advertising Lines

Unclaimed Domain Names

Missing Emoji

New Eponymous Laws



In general, for openers I am not above spouting whatever bullshit comes to my mind at that moment.

I have, at various times,

I have been told that I'm creative, but I have never observed any correlation with how well the approach goes and the opener, except for very boring openers and insults.