Not being a The Simpsons fan, I did not know this was a not-word when I read it in one of my favorite blogs today. So I clicked on the link the author gave which sent me to Wikipedia and neologisms. That was NOT was I was looking for, so I entered “cromulent definition” into Google. The first entry is the one above. The second says this:
I have found this definition online for it in several places:
[nonsense word] used in an ironical sense to mean legitimate, and therefore, in reality, spurious and not at all legitimate (assumes common knowledge of the Simpsons reference)
However, I don’t like this definition. It doesn’t properly fit the context [which is given earlier in this post for non-Simpsonites]. Shauna and I determined a much more fitting and useful definition: when applied to a word, it means that the word may not appear in the dictionary, but the meaning is perfectly clear from the construction. “Embiggens” is not in any (respectable) dictionary, yet it’s clear what it means, especially in context. The irony here is that cromulent is not a cromulent word. (Does this sound like any other roots you know? “Virulent”, maybe, at best? Or make you think of Oliver Cromwell?)
Besides being fitting (it makes sense in the context it was used) and useful (plenty of words fall under this definition, and I think it should be more acceptable to make up words so long as it’s clear what they mean), this definition appeals to me because it’s meta. It’s a word about the definition and nature of other words.
So, thank you very much to Amy of Amy’s Random Thoughts for the the word, its context, and two competing definitions. Which one will win? We’ll have to wait till Merriam-Webster shows up with it. I prefer the second, actually.
Of course, I don’t know what “embiggens” means either. But that’s not a word that sounds cool to me, so I don’t care.