By Steve Rushin
January 12, 2011

As Alexander the Great wept when he had no more worlds to conquer, word lovers will weep when there is nothing left to name. Lewis & Clark got to name all that they surveyed while exploring the West, which is why Montana has a Judith River: Clark named it for his future wife, a foolproof courtship technique unavailable today.

Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy, gave more names to more earthly things than any other man -- who he also named, incidentally, having coined the phrase homo sapiens.

All of this leaves present-day homo sapiens very little to do, beyond naming the occasional expansion team, racehorse or child. Which is one more reason that sports are such a welcome diversion. It's a world unto itself, with corners still open to discovery, creatures still in need of classification. Like a latter-day Linnaeus, then, I propose to name everything in sports that is yet un-named, beginning with:

Rental hygienist: Alley employee who sprays down bowling shoes with an aerosol can of disinfectant.

Bobbleganger: The rare bobblehead doll that looks like its subject.

AquaNet: Result of a slap shot that knocks the goalie's water bottle off the top of the goal.

PATdown: The gentle, two-handed, let-me-help-you frisking that a member of the opposing defense gives a kicker immediately after he has roughed him, in the hope that said kicker will remain on his feet and a penalty will not be called.

Imodium: A portmanteau of imbecile and podium, it describes the dyspeptic look on a coach's face as he stands at a microphone, listening to a dumb question.

Inkubation: That panicky period, just after the birth of his fourth child, when an athlete realizes he has run out of places on his body to tattoo the name of his new offspring. (See David Beckham).

Fiskattaway: As practiced by coaches and kickers, the act of leaning left or right to try to coax a football through the uprights.

Titlelisting: What a golfer does when leaning to one side by way of urging his putt into the cup.

Purse-piration: The backlit arc of sweat that flies off a just-punched boxer's face in slow motion during prizefights in movies.

Concushion: That red mark in the center of a football player's forehead caused by the front pad of his helmet.

Molar panel: A football mouth guard when stored above one's facemask between plays, at roughly the facial elevation that nitwits on the Riviera rest their sunglasses (see solar panels).

Grassmask: The piece of turf stuck to a tackled player's facemask (synonym: face plant).

Autoppsy: Forensic exam to determine who threw out your baseball cards.

Backbrush: A pitch thrown behind a batter, so that he has to move forward to avoid getting hit. Opposite of the brushback. Also, a grooming tool for the hirsute.

Plaque-out: Total eclipse of all other monuments at Monument Park in Yankee Stadium, caused by the sun-blocking Ozymandias-like memorial to George Steinbrenner.

Evictus: The awkward moment at a rugby match when you have to tell Nelson Mandela that he is in your seat.

Rinkage: The shrinkage one feels upon first standing up after removing one's ice skates.

CrocoDial: A brand of soap specifically engineered for use during a Gatorade shower.

FIFA-Fo-Fum: The constant bluster issuing from the giant governing body of international soccer and its president, Sepp Blatter.

As you can see, this is just a start. There is endless work to be done in the field of sports taxonomy. We spent the last 10 years without a name for the decade: Was it the Ohs? The Zeroes? The Naughties? We never decided. Likewise, we've lived with TV's yellow first down line for a decade without every giving it a satisfactory name. The Yellow Line? We should be ashamed of ourselves.

In the 19th century, journalist Ambrose Bierce compiled The Devil's Dictionary, coming up with new definitions for familiar words, among them: Bore: A person who talks when you wish him to listen.

A quarter century ago, comedian Rich Hall did the opposite of Bierce, coining new words for familiar concepts. Among those were: Idiot box (the box on an envelope that says Place Stamp Here); elacceleration (the belief that repeated pressings of the call button will make the elevator arrive sooner); and lactomanuglation (When you mangle the Open Here spout on a milk carton so badly that you have to use the illegal spout on the other side).

If you'd like to help name the sports world, send me new words that ought to exist but unaccountably do not. (Tweet them to me @steverushin or e-mail Here's one more to get you started.

Halas-tosis: A specific form of bad breath peculiar to NFL coaches, caused by covering one's mouth with a laminated play card.

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