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:
There must be a word—if not, we should invent one—for the relief you experience when you strip off your mask.
Masktration: the frustration of wearing one too long@Fritinancy #shitmanteau 😜@sesquiotic @mikepope @byagoda @bgzimmer @BCDreyer
— Susan C-P (@booksnips) July 19, 2020
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.
Lest it be not clear: this is about how it feels to take off the mask when you are at home in private. That is what the first two sentences are talking about. If you are inclined to protest against any requirement to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 or anything similar, I am not here for you. And if you are wondering whether this is intended as a protest against mask wearing, allow me to assure you: it is not.