A livingstone, I presume?

A brand new coinage from Chris Warren

Today’s offering from Word of the Day is a present from my esteemed friend and learned colleague Chris Warren – a brand new coinage, no less. We therefore break our usual custom and provide guidance on its meaning and usage, as you will not find this word in dictionaries – yet:


First, please notice the lack of an initial capital letter. This is not the Livingstone daisy, nor does it refer to the Scottish missionary and explorer of Africa – though it does derive from the latter. A livingstone is a missing file, originally a word processor file or ‘lost doc’ (as in: “I’m suffering from a livingstone since that hard disc crash”). It is possible to predict that this will lead to the finding of the same becoming known as a stanley (‘Ah! I’ve found the lost doc! “Dr Livingstone, I presume?”‘).

Readers of a linguistic bent (aren’t we all bent a little that way?) will recognise that this word is in the class that includes three which featured in Word of the Day earlier this month: hoover, dewar and newton. These are names which have lost their initial capital letters. It seems, according to Wikipedia, that these are capitonyms: ‘A capitonym is a word that changes its meaning (and sometimes pronunciation) when it is capitalized.’

After this lengthy and (we hope you’ll agree) special Word of the Day, the service will be taking a whole week’s rest whilst we roam. Or, to capitalise it: Rome. If you’d like to receive a copy of the (more or less) daily email, please visit the Word of the Day page.