To bedog or not to bedog? Or to be a bedog?

Not to be doggèd about it, but this is a word that seems to shift to suit – you or it, we’re not sure. It’s sort of like a big dog that you can lie on – or that can lie on you. Or that can follow you, or you can follow it. Or maybe you are the dog, and the dog is you.

Here’s what this is all about. The first time I can think of seeing the word bedog, it was in a sense that (I now know) is not at all the dictionary sense, and I can tell you it did not lie easy on me, or I on it. It was in Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel The Dosadi Experiment, wherein a bedog is a bed that’s a dog, or a dog that’s a bed. It’s a big furry critter than you can sleep on and that is docile and very happy with the arrangement:

McKie stretched his arms high over his head, twisted his blocky torso. The bedog rippled with pleasure at his movements. He whistled softly and suffered the kindling of morning light as the apartment’s window controls responded. A yawn stretched his mouth. He slid from the bedog and padded across to the window.


Jedrik moved softly with her own preparations, straightened the bedog and caressed its resilient surface.

Of course, this means that this bedog is pronounced like “bed dog” but with only one “d,” and I am not comfortable with that. Even if you degeminate the [dd] you should, in English orthography, write it as dd (which we would usually say as just “d” anyway) because otherwise the e becomes “long.”

Which, in the real-world version, it is. Because bedog is really the verb dog (formed from the noun dog, of course) plus the prefix be, as in befall, bemoan, benight, bewitch, bedaub, become, believe, behave (yes, of course behave is beplus have; it’s just travelled a long way since the joining), and many others. But that be can be many things, as it happens, as is evidenced by the different definitions of bedog. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the options as “To call ‘dog’” (so “I bedogged him” means ‘I called him a dog’) and “To follow about like a dog, to dog” (which also means that to bedog can be to be doggèd) with the addition of bedogged meaning “Become like a dog.” Wiktionary, for its parts, gives us “to refer to or treat like a dog; (by extension) to follow like a dog, harass, torment; bully” and “to become or behave as a dog.” And Webster’s Third New International Dictionary is succinct but in line with Oxford: “to call (a person) a dog” (meaning you can’t bedog a dog, because that dog do be a dog and if you do be dog you do not be bedogged) and “dog vt” (i.e., the transitive verb dog, as opposed to “dog, VT,” which is a dog in Vermont).

So. To debog this:  You can bedog someone else by calling them a dog or by dogging them (which means acting like a dog in their direction, generally), or, supposedly, you can bedog and just, you know, be a dog. (However, the quotations in Wiktionary in support of that latter sense do not support it: “That envy, malice, and hatred bedogged his steps” is clearly the first sense, and “So they went to sleep like a pair of chain gangers, and bedogged if during the night Rose didn’t get up and start for the bathroom, and down she went” is equally clearly using bedogged like doggone or any less canine and less polite turn of speech involving g with b and/or d.)

And can you be bedogged by a dog? Seems redundant, dunnit. But can you be bedogged by a dog star? Hmm, is that serious? Ha, it’s Sirius. We are in the dog days, and the heat is both canine and incandescent. So if you don’t want to be bedogged, beware of updog.


Where are you from?

What is the landscape of your childhood imagination, the place where you learned placeness, the paths and houses and landscapes that taught you the lines and limits of being somewhere and going somewhere? When you imagined other places, what is the mental modelling clay you used? What are your archetopes?

Now that you have grown, you have seen much more of the world, many places that are many different ways, but as you travelled, each new-to-you place had things about it that surprised you in how they differed from what you were used to. Piccadilly Circus was smaller than you expected, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was bigger, Manhattan was more homey, Tel Aviv was more modern, Quebec was older, San Francisco seemed so closed in, Mexico City seemed so vast, Ireland had endless stone walls, Boston had brick sidewalks, New Zealand had one-lane bridges; lanes didn’t go the way you thought they would, and buildings were used differently, and hills had odd shapes, and roads took odd routes up them, and houses welcomed you different ways and smelled different from the houses you knew when you were small. And these are all wonderful discoveries, and as you live you build your knowledge of somewhereness in the world – of ubiety – as surely as you build your understanding of people and things. Every mental ramification is exciting. But all those new branches are grown on the same roots, of where you learned what it was to be somewhere, to have a world around you with places to go and to be. They are all built on and with your archetopes.

I live in Toronto; I have lived here for nearly a quarter of a century now. I am at home, I know the geography, the shape of the city, the wheres and whats of it, and have seen more of it than many people who have lived nowhere else. But it’s not where I’m from. It’s not where I learned how places are connected, or what going away and coming home feels like. It’s not where I mapped my desires and hopes over hills and valleys, where I draped my dreams on peaks and plains. It’s not steeped in the mythos of my childhood.

If I go with my wife through the east side of Toronto, past certain intersections and into certain parks, we pass the places where her childhood and youth happened: this is where her track team ran, that is where she broke her arm, here is the arena she learned to skate in, there is the McDonald’s she worked in. For her it is blood, running in her veins; for me it is water, like a stream I am stepping into and can step out of. If we go to Alberta, to Calgary and Banff and the Bow Valley in between, it is the converse: though my family lived in many different houses, everything I see is where I imagined a million things, where I extrapolated the lands of books and movies and televisions shows from, where I ran and sat and read and sang and made things and broke things and imagined what I would be in fifty years. And for my wife it is scenery and a place to visit.

These are our archetopes, our original places. You know archetype, I’m sure; it is from Greek ἀρχή arkhé ‘beginning, origin’ and τῠ́πος tupos ‘type, sort, impression’. Archetope has the same arche, but in place of type is tope, as in biotope and chronotope: ‘place’, from Greek τόπος topos.

There is an important distinction to be made: whereas archetypes are, per Jung, stored deep in our collective unconscious – the operating-system software we are born with – and they shape stories and understandings in generally the same ways wherever there are humans, archetopes have a more individual quality. Certainly we may be born with ideas of shapes of places, and narratives of going through places, but each of us learns geography in a way that anchors certain places deep in our imaginations and helps shape even the world of our dreams. We develop our archetopes also by travelling as children, and if we live in many places in our early years we build our archetopes from all of them. But each of us has navigated the places of the world differently, has learned differently what to feel about certain houses and roads, has come to different encounters with the wild parts.

Have you seen or heard this word archetope before? Perhaps not. You may have if you’ve read the revisionist physics of one James Carter, but he uses it differently, to name an atom’s most “archetypal isotope.” But his models of physics are, shall we say, not widely adopted; I don’t mind ignoring him. This word is much more needed for a facet of lived being that I have always felt existed but never had a word for. And now I do, and so do you. Yes, it’s a new old word, but everything is new at some time or another.


This word seems so serene and tropical – and it is, in its way. It is from Classical Greek σελήνη seléné ‘moon’ (also the name of the moon goddess: Σελήνη) and τροπος tropos ‘turning’, and it means ‘turning to the moon’. It is used technically of plants that follow the cold mottled white orb of the night in its celestial transit, but all humans (and not just on tropical nights) – and especially all poets – do it too.

The noun from which selenotropic is derived, selenotropism, was confected by M.C. Musset in 1883 following an experiment (read his short summary) in which he raised plants in darkness and then exposed them to moonlight to see if they would follow it, and they did.

I’ve written a poem on this theme. While you read it, why not listen to Claude Débussy playing his own Clair de Lune, recorded on piano roll, inspired by Paul Verlaine’s poem of the same name?

You can read Verlaine’s poem in the description on the video, if you click through to YouTube. Here is mine:


Did you turn to the moon?

After sprouting in shadow,
after you grew in darkness,
grew slender, long, sun-starved,
grew leaves and tendrils knowing
no warmth, no joy, no mist,
no riot of birds, no bee-kiss,
nothing to trample or eat you,
nothing to touch or greet you,

after one warm hand took you,
after your captor exposed you,
exposed you to glass, to sky,
exposed you to whispers, to watching
your stems, your terminal buds,
your eyes, your fingers of blood
wanting the sun, the rain,
wanting the wings, the pain,

did you pull at your roots,
did you lean to see
what this lover was,
what this almost-light—
not sun, not day, not bulb,
not flame, not lightning flash—
wanted, running and sinking,
wanted behind the mountain?

Did you, in all your paleness,
did you, in never-green,
in your concavities,
in your internal cause,
know then that you were seen,
know then that you were named,
and glow with unowned light,
and grow, and shine, and fade?

Did you turn to the moon?


What would we call a model for society that considered its most important aspect to be care and compassion for others rather than the opportunity to take as much as possible for oneself? A model that started with the genuine assumption that it’s worth helping and taking care of each other, and that by making sure to contribute well to our common good we will truly raise the tide and lift all boats, without worrying about making sure that the ones we think don’t deserve it don’t get lifted, and rather than thinking that if a few people can build yachts with decks high above the rest the tide will follow?

Does this sound like something reds and fellow-travellers would say? Well, it is what we can call fellowred, but it has nothing in specific to do with communism. It’s just an attitude of mutual respect, friendship, comity…

I mean, we ought to have a more common word than fellowred for just this kind of thing, and we do, but we don’t, because the sense of that word has shifted: for many people, fellowship has taken on a distinct religious, especially Christian (and perhaps in particular Evangelical), air; in academic contexts, it has a particularly pecuniary air; in some other contexts, it has a Tolkienian air, as in The Fellowship of the Ring. But in general it gives an feeling of a coterie, a chosen few, rather than a broader sense of an attitude or society.

We also have the word companionship, but these days that mainly seems to refer to a Platonic (or not) relationship with a specific other person with the end of not being lonely. And we have comradeship, which is not bad, but may imply tighter ties that bind.

So. There’s fellowred, which is fellow plus red, not as in the colour but as in kindred (and hatred): an old suffix seldom seen now, forming nouns of condition or quality. Fellowred hasn’t been used much in the past half millennium, but, then, we haven’t always focused as much on what it names as we should have, either.

By the way, in spite of collocations such as fellow man and common uses to mean ‘guy’, ‘dude’, ‘bloke’, etc., fellow is not originally or intrinsically masculine. It comes from an old Scandinavian root meaning ‘partner, business associate, companion, comrade, spouse, collaborator, ally’, and that’s what it came into English meaning and still, in many uses, means. So although it has long had some specifically masculine uses, there remain many senses that haven’t become gender-specific (the academic sense comes right to mind again).

And so we can, if we want, talk of doing things not for profit or for the team or for spite or for #winning, but for fellowred. Because, to lightly paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut, there’s only one rule I know of: you’ve got to be kind.


When you feel you’re slipping into sub-sanity at the basic buffoonery, unsubstantiated transubstantiation of pumpkins into pantocrators (apocolocyntosis), and far too much of the tail wagging the dog, sometimes the only riposte is to be waggish: to deride the pale rider, to dump Humpty, to subsannate the saboteurs.

I promise you I am not taking the piss (so to speak): I have not made this word up. But you won’t find it often in modern texts; it has slipped into desuetude. Which is a pity, because we still have use for it – or at least for the act it names. But come, follow me as I trace this carbuncle up from the mines of ancient time.

In Ancient Greek, there was a word σαίνειν sainein, meaning ‘wag the tail’ or, figuratively, ‘fawn [over someone]’. Be a happy puppy for a person, in other words. We don’t really know where this word came from, but I’m sure it was nice, wherever it was.

Anyway, σαίνειν was adapted into the noun σάννας sannas, which meant ‘clown’ or ‘buffoon’ (I guess they quickly smoked out the sycophants). That noun in turn got grabbed into Latin as sanna to mean ‘mocking grimace’ – the sort of thing I usually call ‘a sneer’, though I suppose they may have done it differently at the time; different cultures have different mocking faces.

That Latin noun then, with the addition of sub (‘under’), got converted to the verb subsannare, ‘sneer, mock, deride’. And from that came a whole set of English words: not just subsannate but subsannation, subsannator, and – in at least one text – a more lace-at-the-throat version of the verb: subsanne.

And, yes, subsannate means ‘mock, deride’ – in particular with an implication of a mean face: as Thomas Blount’s 1656 dictionary Glossographia puts it, “to scorn or mock with bending the Brows, or snuffing up the nose.”

Oh, with BeNdiNg tHe bRoWs or snUfFinG uP tHe NoSe. Huh. Funny way you have of expressing mockery, mister Blount. Well, you do you.

And to all the other Dumpty Pumpkins out there: I subsannate you too. And not just in your general direction, either.


A muskellunge walks into a bar. The bartender says, “Why the long face?” The muskie says “Because you guys messed up my name!” The bartender ducks below the counter because it’s about to get ugly.

Some people have heard of a muskellunge, or at least have heard of it by the name muskie. Others have not, or at least not until they had a muskie lunge at them. Or more likely read a story about someone who had a muskellunge lunge at them.

Muskellunge do lunge muscularly! They’re ambush predators. But they rarely attack people. Not never, but not often. They prefer smaller things: muskrats, rats, frogs, ducks, and other fish.

Oh, yes, a muskellunge is a fish. It’s a popular sport fish, owing to the fact that they’re big enough to do some damage: typically two to four feet long (in 2000, someone caught one weighing more than 60 pounds – nearly 28 kilograms – in Georgian Bay). They live mostly in the Great Lakes area of North America, though they have been introduced to some other parts of the continent for the entertainment of the rod-and-reel set.

A muskie is like a northern pike – a big, ugly one. In fact, that’s how it got its name (nothing to do with lunging at muskrats). In English we now say the name as three syllables (or two, if you just say muskie), but it used to be four; we got it from French masque allongé, which means ‘long face’ (see joke above). But…

masque allongé is an eggcorn, like sparrowgrass for asparagus: it’s a reconstrual of a word as something made of more recognizable bits. The word entered French as manskinongé. It came from Ojibwe ma:škino:še: (also spelled maashkinoozhe), from ma:š ‘ugly’ and kino:še:northern pike’.

Apparently the dark bodies with light markings that real northern pike have are prettier than the silver, brown, or green bodies with stripes and spots that muskellunge present. But I wouldn’t say so in front of one of them.


I’m fed up with being fed up, and I’m sick of having to avoid getting sick. I am surrounded by fulsome wholesome advice, and I am feeling much more partial to something on the middling side. I do not want to replace potato chips with celery sticks. I do not want something so morally improving that it is as warm and welcoming as a marble sculpted peach. I want to cut loose, I want a cut of the louche, I want some cheese on my cheese and hold the cracker, I want some sparkle in my life and I want it served in a stem glass, and I don’t want anyone to tell me how good for me it isn’t. It’s not that I’m interested in hopping on the helter-skelter to hell – I’ll seek the endorphin high of exercise on my own time and terms, don’t you worry – but let me have something halfsome.

That’s some word, halfsome, but for some reason we don’t see it much. It has the same pattern as wholesome and fulsome. That some shows up in cumbersome, handsome, gladsome, loathsome, and some more (such as wlatsome), to make a word that means its object has or provokes the quality, act, or response named; the whole in wholesome is of course the same as whole but is also related to hale and health (a person who is whole is healthy and vice versa, and whole and hale trace back to the same word, while health is from hale as width is from wide); the ful in fulsome is just a less fully written full with the same sense and some extensions (though woe betide you if you run afoul of the lexicranks on that one). So if there’s whole and full, there’s half, right?

I’m partial to it. Half comes originally from an old word for ‘side’, as in one side of a person (or a cow, or a cookie, or a nagila) or, by extension, one side of a two-party relationship or deal (which is why “on my behalf” means “taking my side” – these days specifically “acting as my proxy”). So it doesn’t originally convey a situation such as a glass that is somewhere between full and empty (in the middle, one might say – maybe midsome, though that word is no more popular than a midden at midsummer); rather, it implies a one-sidedness, an imbalance, or anyway a partialness or partiality. It names a diet and lifestyle that tend more to one kind of thing – just the kind of thing to which a person is partial – rather than one of those annoying wholesome regimens recommended by people who seem not to understand the concept of enjoying food.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to spend all my days eating nothing but potato chips and fancy cheese. There are delicious ways to serve things that even the most morose martinet of a medical fanatic would recommend. But even moderation is best enjoyed in moderation. Every now and then, have something halfsome.

Oh, by the way, for some dumb reason, this word is not in any dictionaries. Yet. So I get to decide what it means, and I just did. I guess that makes it a new old word, and I’m serving it up fresh for you. Have some!


The word cancel can make people cross – or at least crabby. It can seem to bespeak censorship and social incarceration. But it’s been in circulation for a long time and comes from an even longer and larger line of words, and while etymology does not reign over current usage, I think a few of cancel’s siblings and cousins can help us get to the crux of the matter.

Our English verb cancel comes from Anglo-Norman canceler, ‘cross out’, ultimately from Latin cancellus ‘railing or lattice’, because at first cancel referred to crossing something out by drawing not just one line or a scribble on it but a whole lattice of lines. But that Latin cancellus has other progeny. It (or in some cases its plural, cancelli) referred to a barred door, as well as to a barred railing dividing two spaces. The ‘barred railing’ sense gave us a word for a part of a church on the far side of a dividing screen or railing, the part the priest and other ecclesiastical authorities would occupy: the chancel. The ‘barred door’ sense gave us a word for someone who at first was a gatekeeper, someone who was at the screen between the public and a judge, censor, or other official, for instance; over time it gained in stature to refer to a high appointed official or executive: a chancellor.

And where did cancellus come from? It’s the diminutive form of cancer, which, aside from naming a nasty disease, is also the Latin for ‘crab’ (as astrologists will know), and it also meant ‘lattice, grid, barrier’. The disease was named after the crab (due to the appearance of certain tumours). But how do you get from a crab to a barrier? You don’t; you go the other way. The crab got this name because of the circular enclosure its pincers make. Cancer comes from Proto-Italic *karkros, ‘enclosure’, and is a doublet (meaning they were originally the same word, like person and parson or vermin and varmint) of carcer.

Carcer? If you’re thinking right away of incarcerate, you got it in one: our carceral words for prison and similar enclosures are long-lost twins of our words for crabs, tumours, barriers, high officials, and obliteration or discontinuation.

But wait, there’s more. Cancer and carcer both come from a Proto-Indo-European root *kr-kr- having to do with circles and enclosures that is the source of words such as circus, circle, circulation, crux, cross, curve, and crisp. And because *kr-kr- is in turn from *(s)ker- meaning ‘bend’, all of these words are also cousins of other words descended from that root, such as corona, crown, shrine, and even ring.

That took a few turns, didn’t it? But I’d like to draw on the connection between cancel and chancellor just to underline (rather than cross out) an important fact about cancelling: like censorship, it can only be executed by someone who has the authority or power. If you are the official gatekeeper, you can cancel: if you are the postmaster, you can cancel a stamp; if you are the TV network boss, you can cancel a show; if you are the owner of a newspaper (or someone with similar power over it), you can cancel an edition or even the whole newspaper. But if you are an ordinary person, the most you can actually cancel is your own subscription. You don’t end the circulation of the newspaper everywhere; you just end your involvement in its circulation. That said, if you and a lot of other people cancel your subscriptions, the people who do have discretionary power over the newspaper may cancel it – or they may remove the factor (e.g., an author) who is the reason you all have given for cancelling your subscriptions. But that’s not quite the same as you actually cancelling the newspaper or author; you just exerted pressure, which in this case (as not always) was responded to.

Cancelled, of course, is now sometimes used to refer to an attitude towards a person when something unlikeable is discovered about them. Fans may find that the star has views they don’t subscribe to, so the fans decide no longer to underwrite the star (subscribe is from Latin for ‘underwrite’; originally it meant exactly the same thing, and still typically has an aspect of fiscal support). But any one person or group of people can’t end all of a person’s circulation (fame, discussion, purchase of works, existence as a human being on the face of the planet); they can only end their own involvement in it. And that involvement is not unlimited in scope.

So, to get to the crux of the matter, if many of the fans of a person decide they no longer want to support and give their money to that person, they may say the person is “cancelled,” but this is like cancelling a newspaper subscription, not like cancelling a TV show or a stamp. The person still walks, talks, and writes, and probably still has a relatively large audience – they may even be getting paid handsomely to give their opinion to an audience of millions on how bad being “cancelled” is. But even famous people don’t have a right to require people to listen to them or pay them. If they have offended enough of their audience – or enough powerful people – that someone who does have the power to cancel their TV show or book or whatever chooses to do so, even then they are generally in no worse circumstance than millions of other people, and they probably have much more money and property than most.

In other words, since cancel is often used as an expression of dislike and withdrawal on the one side and upset about being disliked and withdrawn from on the other, much use of cancel these days is less about being barred (or barring) – let alone about incarceration – and more about circulation, subscription, and crabbiness. And that’s not really a new phenomenon. It’s just another manifestation of the old truism: What goes around comes around.

andor, tai

In English, we have a bit of a disjunction in our conjunctions. We can navigate them in speech, but in writing we have a problem. Consider this sentence:

Do you want food or drink?

In speaking, there are two ways we can say it, and the meaning is distinct:

Do you want food or drink [even tone until “drink,” then rising]?

Do you want food [rising tone] [slight pause] or drink [falling tone]?

With the first one, it’s understood that you might want both food and drink (or you could say “neither” or “no thanks”). With the second, the implication is that you can have one or the other, but not both (and it’s assumed you’re going to have one of them).

But when you get into writing, you can’t make that distinction. And when it’s formal writing and ambiguity is a bad thing – especially if it’s a context where lawyers might be involved if things get awkward – the “both” option can’t necessarily be taken as implied:

Offer the participants food or drink.

Crumpets are available with butter or honey.

Imagine if I were in some tea room (probably, by the look of the text, one run by a disgruntled former office manager) and I saw that second sentence and I said “I would like a crumpet with butter and honey.” Imagine the server said “Can’t you read? One or the other.” Imagine I were a lawyer. Do you think I’d be able to argue that I should be able to have both?

Admittedly, there are many instances where an “or” is not problematic. But take it from a guy who’s worked on millions of words of information about human health and its care and treatment: sometimes you really need to be clear about this kind of thing. There’s a reason that the usage and/or has burbled up into the written language.

There’s also a reason that many style guides tell you to avoid it and many editors will, on seeing it, sneeze and swat half of it away, leaving either and or or. It’s ugly, it seems inelegant, it’s often unnecessary, and there’s a slash in the middle of it.

So what do we do?

Well, I mean, I know what we generally do. It prevails because people like it and it makes them feel safe, and meanwhile other people do their best to get rid of it wherever they see it in the same way as they get rid of irregardless: with a shiver. It becomes a make-work project for text workers.

But look. I’m an editor but I’m also a linguist. And I’m the kind of editor working on the kind of stuff where having and/or is sometimes very useful. So here’s the thing: what do you do when you see “and/or” on a page and you have to read it out loud?

You say “and or,” don’t you? Or, really, “andor”?

I propose that we just run up the white flag and get rid of the slash (slashes are for fan fiction anyway) and make it andor. Hey presto, it’s one word!

But I know that not everyone will like that. I know that some people will see in andor what Swedish speakers see in ändor (which is Swedish for ‘behinds’ or ‘ends’): a bummer. So if you don’t like ends, let me suggest some Finnish: tai.

Finnish has two words for ‘or’: vai and tai. Guess what the distinction between them is.

Yes, it’s this: where we say “Do you want food or drink” and mean “but not both,” it uses vai: “Haluatko ruokaa vai juomaa?”; where we say it and mean “Do you want food andor drink,” it uses tai: “Haluatko ruokaa tai juomaa?”

Isn’t that handy? Now, I know that it’s uncommon for grammatical particles to be borrowed from other languages, but it’s not altogether unheard of. And while it may seem a weakness that tai sounds like “tie,” I see it as an asset: if it’s a tie between food and drink, you can have both.

So take your pick: do you want andor or tai? Or… do you want andor andor tai? (Or do you want andor tai tai?) You may be inclined to say “neither” or “no, thanks.” But in this case you have to pick at least one, because otherwise you’re stuck with and/or – and even if you never use it, it’s not going away!


You step in, close the door behind you – click – and then, ahhhhh, you peel it off. You reach up behind your ear and hook your finger into the loop and strip that mask off and your face is free. You are, at last, maximally relaxed: you are at the moment of maxillaxation.

Not that maxillaxation comes from maximally relaxed. The laxation is related to relaxation – they both come from Latin laxare, which can mean ‘relax’ or ‘open’ but can also mean ‘undo, release, relieve, free’ – but the maxil is from maxilla, ‘jaw’. You could say that maxilla is bound so closely to laxation that the la and la have overlapped and become one.

There are other Latin confections that could be made to express the moment of freeing your face from an anti-infection mask. But they don’t all sound as good. And, really, unlike some other masks (which may cover the whole face or only the eyes), the contagion-stoppers are fitted mainly to the jaw, with the lower nose included. Plus, if anyone wants to say “mask” and turns this word into maskillaxation, well, that works too.

You don’t have to use this word, of course; you could use something based on the Greek for ‘unveiling’, ἀποκάλυψις – oh, sorry, apocalypse is already kinda taken. You could do something with ‘lips’ and ‘sheath’, but not using Latin roots, because the Latin words for those would get you caught in adult content blockers (see here). A Greek-derived word for ‘lip stripping’ would be something like cheiloecdysis, which, um, I like maxillaxation, don’t you?

Well, I hope Susan C-P (@booksnips) likes it, because she made the request that led me to this word:

Led me to it? Led me to make it, of course. The ingredients were all there, but this result is my own recipe. I’m sure you’re not surprised that it’s a new old word, first unveiled now before you. But it feels good to have it, doesn’t it?

PS @ottawasteph said “Now do bras!” and as far as I make it, that would readily be mammillaxation – because Latin for ‘breast’ (or anyway ‘nipple’) is mammilla.