I just paid a visit to the little coffee shop within the complex where I am teaching this week. As I was dispensing a large cup of “bold” coffee from the appropriately marked urn, I looked at the urn of decaf that was nearby. It struck me that I would have been very disappointed had I accidentally poured my coffee from the wrong urn. As I often do, I wondered if there would be a word for exactly that set of circumstances. I decided that the word should be decafate. I can think of two reasons to recommend this usage:
- The actual mishap is that the drinker accidentally gets decaf. For someone like me, who is expecting to get a good jolt of caffeine to clear their head, this is truly a bad outcome.
- A fairly tempting keyboarding error will lead an author to accidentally use not this word (decafate) but its scatological cousin instead. The danger of getting such an unfortunate outcome from such an easy mistake is a great metaphor for the dangers involved in the coffee scenario described above.
Responsible researcher that I am, I did look for prior work on usage for decafate. I found a tweet or two in which alternate definitions were suggested. Clearly, I am not the first person to find this typographically dangerous word attractive. Yet, I like my definition best of all of those that I have found so far.
This is my first Word Musing post. I am hoping that quite a few more will reach Escape Velocity in the months to come.