X-iversaries everywhere

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Here are two anniversarial tweets that appeared Friday evening. The first is from the WhiteHouse.gov Technology account, celebrating the anniversary of the release of the source code for We the People:

The second is from Chris Messina, a.k.a. the hashtag godfather, on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of his proposal of the hashtag convention on Twitter:

(Messina didn't actually coin hashtag on that fateful day in 2007 — that was done a few days later by Stowe Boyd, another early Twitter adopter. See the Spring 2013 installment of "Among the New Words" in American Speech [pdf], which I co-wrote with Charles Carson, as well as Boyd's own recent post on the subject.)

Gordon Hemsley, who spotted the #OpenSource-iversary tweet, wondered if usage of -iversary has been increasing. I think it has, demonstrating that -(i)versary is available for productive neologizing, now that it has achieved the status of what Arnold Zwicky has dubbed a "libfix" (a "liberated" word part that yields new word-forming elements).

X-iversaries have been crossing my radar for a while now. In a July 2010 "On Language" reader response, I talked about how the use of anniversary has been expanded to commemorate non-annual events, as in "one-month anniversary." Alternative terms include mensiversary (in sporadic use since the 19th century) and monthiversary. The former follows classical word formation, but the latter treats -iversary as a blend component (the first stage on the road to becoming a libfix). Another example came up in a Nov. 2010 "On Language" column: blogiversary, one of many blog-blends (a second-order blend, since blog itself blends Web + log).

Since the -i- in -iversary represents an unaccented schwa, it can easily be dropped for purposes of euphony (cf. such libfixes as -[o]nomics, -[a]thon, and -[e]teria). Back in 2008, Grant Barrett spotted liver-versary, used by a recipient of a liver transplant to commemorate her surgery. And in Nov. 2010, Erin McKean announced Wordnik's API-versary (as well as its data-versary). Arnold Zwicky also noted legalversary last year.

One indication of the libfix's productivity is how often it gets applied by contributors to Urban Dictionary. Using wildcard searching on the handy Onelook dictionary aggregator, one can search on all forms of *versary on UD. As you might expect, a large number of entries are sexual in nature, so we find bangaversary, bjversary, boinkiversary, bone(i)versary, cockiversary, fuck(i)versary, sex(i)versary, shagerversary, vaginaversary, and virginiversary, among others. (Cherryversary, noted in another Zwicky post, has inexplicably not received the Urban Dictionary treatment.)

And the X-iversaries just keep on coming. Twitter reveals an endless stream of ad-hoc commemorations: twitter-friend-iversary, vegan-versary, storm-iversary, book-iversary, Foursquare-versary, Etsy-versary, and on and on. If I could find the first time someone thought to treat -(i)versary as a libfix, we could celebrate the versaryversary.

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9 Comments »

  1. DimSkip said,

    August 24, 2013 @ 3:03 pm

    A cousin of mine recently celebrated her 1st anniversary (note: an actual anniversary of marriage!) and I wished her and her spouse a "Happy AnniFIRSTary" on facebook. It just seemed like a naturally specialized variation of the generic phrase. I would assume I'm not the first to ever use it, but I can't say I've ever come across it before (if my memory serves, which quite often it does not).

    Not sure how, or if, that fits in to the X-iversary discussion… Just throwing it out there fwiw.

  2. Neil Bardhan said,

    August 24, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

    A friend of mine posted online this morning that she & her husband were about to go on their honeymoon, two years late. Their wedding anniversary and her birthday are in the next week. She refers to this as a "birthversary" trip.

  3. Hugo said,

    August 25, 2013 @ 2:03 am

    1991
    "50th wedding iversary"
    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/misc.wanted/uBLb-QMcWa4

    1992
    "one month 'versary"
    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/alt.romance.chat/fSW97OxbOPY

    February 1993
    "three-month-iversary"
    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/rec.arts.tv.soaps/8TKXueysCuU

    February 1993
    "Date-a-versary"
    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/bit.listserv.christia/2TAZ3w2MhKg

    June 1993
    "month-iversary"
    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/alt.wedding/fcaCd85xc7M

    June 1993
    "2-month-iversary"
    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/alt.romance/2ORs70bIInE

    August 1993
    "SNICK-iversary"
    https://groups.google.com/forum/m/#!topic/alt.tv.ren-n-stimpy/BNVIpNuiY0M

  4. Jeroen Mostert said,

    August 25, 2013 @ 2:06 am

    If the Google hits are anything to go by, when people use Annieversary they're usually simply misspelling it rather than celebrating an Annie (for now).

  5. languageandhumor said,

    August 25, 2013 @ 10:53 am

    Not surprisingly, some members of the "pro-ana" (pro-anorexia, as a lifestyle choice) community use "anaversary," including a "2 week ANAversary" and an "8 month anaversary" [lack of hyphens in originals].

    https://www.google.com/search?q=%22pro-ana%22+anaversary&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a#fp=8f9ad9c84a97d3b0&nfpr=1&q=%22pro-ana%22+anaversary&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official

  6. Rod Johnson said,

    August 25, 2013 @ 12:14 pm

    Annifirstary

  7. Sili said,

    August 25, 2013 @ 1:50 pm

    I don't recall noticing this before, but within 24 hours of reading this post, I came across "tranniversary" from the lovely Zinnia Jones.

    Oh, BTW, I'll be getting a tattoo for my tranniversary next month. "Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam". Google it :D— lauren@zinniaj:~$ _ (@ZJemptv) August 25, 2013

  8. Christopher Sundita said,

    August 25, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

    The word "monthsary" is very popular in Philippine English and is usually used in the context of relationships. "Happy Monthsary" e-cards can be seen on Google Images, with some cheesy variants like "MWAHnthsary" and "munchary." You can also check out #monthsary on Twitter for Filipinos tweeting about their monthsaries.

    I first noticed the term a few years ago when I encountered "Monthsary" cards for sale at a large Filipino grocery store near Seattle.

  9. Sili said,

    August 26, 2013 @ 2:57 pm

    And somehow I missed that "tranniversary" is actually a pun …

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