Posted by: Nancy | February 6, 2010

Embiggen your mind

Ever have a word that just keeps rambling around in your subconscious?

One began burrowing in my mind a few months ago, after my brother shared a Twitter exchange. Somebody he follows tweeted:

“A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.”

And unwittingly, as if on cue, my brother responded: Embiggen?

The other twitter author must have been delighted, really laughing out loud.

He was able to respond: “It’s a perfectly cromulent word.” He helpfully provided the Wikipedia link to explain the exchange.

In a nutshell, both embiggen and cromulent are made-up words from The Simpsons, and both have become part of our language. The first phrase — a noble spirit embiggens the smallest man — is the Springfield town motto.

Embiggen shows up in scientific articles, like this one cited in Kottke, and cromulent is in dictionaries. I found “embiggen” used on a website, letting you click on an image to, well, embiggen it. It’s also a tool to expand Tiny URLs, and my favorite, it’s the name of a bookstore in Queensland, Australia.

Isn’t it great? I just love that Twitter and the Simpsons helped embiggen my mind.

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