R Is for Recombobulation


This is a short post, as I just returned from three days out of town and need to recombobulate.

Nearly anyone who flies in and out of Milwaukee will recognize the above signage. What I didn’t know until starting to write this post is that “recombobulation” as it is used at the Milwaukee airport is an award-winning word, as Anne Curzan explains (emphases added):

Each year we [at the American Dialect Society] vote not only on the Word of the Year but also on, for example, the Most Useful Word of the Year, the Most Useless Word of the Year, and the Most Creative Word of the Year. For 2008, recombobulation area won the title of Most Creative Word of the Year.

If you haven’t been to Concourse C at the General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee in the past five years, you may not have encountered the original (and as far as I have heard only—but readers, please let me know if there are others) recombobulation area, designated as such by its own sign. It is set up just after the security check point, a place where potentially discombobulated passengers can recombobulate: put their belts and coats back on, put their laptops and toiletries away, reload all their miscellaneous objects into their pockets, etc.

I cannot help but use the verb now—usually to myself, in my head—every time I’m putting myself back together after security, no matter what airport I’m in. But here’s the thing: I don’t just recombobulate at airports.

I am willing to admit that most days I have to recombobulate several times a day. Read more

Creating a personal recombobulation area—if only in our own minds and hearts—to put ourselves back together on a regular basis sounds like a pretty good idea.

RThis post is part of the April A to Z Blog Challenge. For more on my 2016 theme of Private Revolution, see A Is for Ambition. Click here to read all posts in the Private Revolution A to Z Challenge blog series. Don’t forget to leave a comment on Saturday’s post for a chance to receive a free signed copy of The Adventures of a Sparrow Named Stanley!

8 thoughts on “R Is for Recombobulation

  1. So fun. In the past, one of my most favorite words (to my husband’s chagrin) was “discombobulated”. Now, thanks to you Lisa, I have another favorite word moving forward. The need for this new word fits my life now more than ever.

  2. Since our girls have been living far afield air travel became a thing for our family as did the word recombobulation… at first sight. They are both flying home soon; pray they don’t let any Arabic slip.

  3. Excellent!! So many layers, too–where are our internal and external recombobulation areas? Who helps us recombobulate? Which aspects of our lives need recombobulating more often and more deeply than others, and can we set ourselves up for regular recombobulation assessments? So much fun to think about, thank you! 😀

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