When I first heard the word “Brexit,” I thought it was a new breakfast, cereal bar or maybe even a low calorie, high protein, tea cracker. It sounded like something you snap in half with your hands and dip into your latte as you charge out the door late for work in the morning.
“Damn, I got only 15 minutes to drop the kids off at school, gas up the car and make it to the office! But at least I can munch on my Brexit.”
Or, I thought, it could also be a new doll sold on Amazon that my eight-year-old granddaughter is going to want for her birthday. Those dolls always have weird names and cost more than my monthly car payment, but hey, whatever makes the kids happy, right?
“Barbie And Her BFF Brexit Are On Sale Now! Buy One Brexit – Get Another Brexit 50% Off!”
However, the more I thought about it, I was certain that the word “Brexit” could be a new word for an EXIT sign for blind people. Get it – Braille/Blind/Exit?
But when I asked my 9-year-old, grandson, what he thought a Brexit was his response was nothing short of innocent and pure. It was funny though how he addressed the word in plural terms and unknowingly assigned political overtones to his answer:
“Brexits are people in MineCraft who aren’t happy and don’t want to play anymore, so they run away.”
I was starting to get confused. I pride myself on being politically informed, so I didn’t want to Google the term yet. I decided to ask some of my scholarly friends the meaning of Brexit.
My friend, Jack, is a computer scientist. When there’s something he doesn’t know about he’s great at writing a software program to figure it all out.
“Jack, do you know what a Brexit is?”
He thought for a moment then said, “Sure, that’s a person who is clumsy and is always breaking things. That’s why they’re called Brexits. That what I call my kids.”
Still, I wasn’t convinced, so I asked my friend, Gloria, who is a junior high school, music teacher.
She softly hummed a few bars, then said, “I believe that’s a new music note – like a treble clef? I’m not sure, though, it all depends on where the center of the spiral rests, usually where on the line as the pitch G above middle C, or approximately 392 Hz.”
“Or maybe it’s the title of a new Taylor Swift song? You know, about her latest boyfriend that Taylor is bored with and shoved out the backstage exit door?”
Then I asked my friend Sammy who is an auto mechanic:
“That a new brake pad. I’m pretty sure of it. I’ve heard that word before. Yeah, that’s right, they make them in the UK for only British cars. Funny how it’s spelled that way, no?”
I was getting frustrated. I have this insatiable thirst for knowledge, so when a term or a word comes my way that I don’t know, I can’t rest until I find the answer.
Next, I asked my one friend who seems to know about everything even though he’s considered an expert in nothing. Everyone hates him because of that but sometimes it’s very convenient to have him around.
“Paul, do you know what a Brexit is?”
Paul squinted his eyes a little, rubbed his chin with his fingers then said, “Is this a trick question?”
“Is it a gotcha question?
He smiled, then said, “Okay, a Brexit sounds like a blend word. In linguistics, a blend word is when you combine two words to make one to form a new word with a specific meaning.”
“Okay, so what’s the meaning of Brexit?”
“I won’t say I don’t know because I’m not sure. It could be a homograph also. That’s a word that has more than one meaning. So since there is two, distinct possibilities, it would be premature for me to say I don’t know what the word means.”
“That’s kind of like a gotcha answer, right?” I said.
“Hey, take it for what it’s worth dude. You were looking for an answer, so I gave you one.”
Smart people – what good are they anyway?
Good luck to the Brits. Whether their decision to leave the European Union was a productive one or not only time will tell.
And in keeping with the tradition of “neologism” (that’s the process for creating a new word), I’ll like to leave you with a few the Internet has spawned that you may see creeping up in the future on the political landscape that may give the word Brexit a run for its money.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Grexit, Departugal, Italeave, Czechout, Outstria, Finish, Slovakout, Latervia, Byegium.
Only Remania will stay.
Joseph E Rathjen is a freelance writer, a book author, opinion writer and a member of the “National Society of Newspaper Columnists.”