Sunday, July 08, 2007

Gasmic Consciousness

A secondary but, uh, obvious definition for orgasm is "intense or unrestrained excitement". Where does that meaning reside in the word? Looks like it's in -gasm, which true to form in English, has no etymological validity.[1] But we don't care. You can add -gasm/-gasmic to lots of things (anything?) and express your intense or unrestrained excitement about that thing.

I ran across this in a blog:
What is a foodgasm, you might ask? Well, as the name might indicate, that's when the food that you're eating is so good, it's practically orgasmic. Your toes curl up, your breath gets shallow. You may start to moan a little. Anyone who's ever had a foodgasm before knows what I'm talking about; anyone who hasn't, well, I'm sorry.
Google currently gets around 29,000 hits for foodgasm. Flikr has a Foodgasm photo pool, for the more visually inclined.

I looked for *gasm in Google Groups (need that stem search) and found a selection, although not so many that were being used as real words. But I did find some.

Some uses stay close to the idea of physical sensation:
  • toe-gasm (adults only for this link)
  • The aforementioned foodgasm.
Others are metaphorical:
  • war-gasm, a term that is somewhat disturbing, although I suspect many people know exactly what it means.
  • art-gasm.
  • joe-gasm, which I was amused at -- noted by a collector of old GI Joe dolls upon encountering a specimen.
Hmm, I guess foodgasm could fit into the second category.

Some people amuse themselves by inventing (tho not actually using) variations on this idea, which is referred to by some as the Gasm game:
  • Sex in a warehouse: store-gasm
  • Sex with a Norse god: Thor-gasm
  • Sex with Marines: corps-gasm
  • Mushroom sex: spore-gasm
... as examples from a very long list.

Anyway, that's the idea. What other terms are in real use that follow this pattern?


[1] I actually got to wondering about the -asm suffix. From the two examples I can think of (orgasm, phantasm) I can't deduce a meaning. Need someone who knows Greek, I think. Any thots?


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Can't think of any neogasms (except perhaps for that one), but I do have a citation for wargasm. In Tony Horwitz's fine book "Confederates in the Attic," he follows a bunch of Civil War re-enactors on a seven-day tour of battlegrounds dubbed the Civil Wargasm. I now see a couple of blog references to the "civil wargasm" in Iraq.

nora wallis said...

It isn't -gasm, but the addition of "-aholic" typically indicates some unnatural devotion to an action or item. Think "workaholic," "shopaholic," etc.

WordzGuy said...

So, do we think that workaholics work so hard because they experience workgasms? :-)

Adam Freedman said...

In the late 1980's when Mikhail Gorbachev was at the height of his popularity, it was said that the Western press was having Gor-basms.

Anonymous said...

Just found this in Greg Palast's blog: "It’s been two years. And America’s media is about to have another tear-gasm over New Orleans."
Turns out Urban Dictionary got there first: Teargasm--To cry profusely, suddenly (Aug. 24, 2006)

Fatty said...

My family uses the word "eargasm," which is the excruciatingly fine feeling one gets when swabbing one's ears with a q-tip after showering.

As of tonight, "eargasm" gets 202,000 hits on google, although its use is predominantly in reference to music.

Just for the record, I coined the term as described in my first paragraph above back in college, around 1990. I hadn't heard it used before then.

Great blog!

Mark Peters said...

I love the sound of this word that I found awhile back: