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Email from Julia Preseau: "The word 'masklessness' — going to surge?"

She sent a couple of examples:

[link] So it was that until this week, Mr. Trump’s mask aversion extended well beyond his person, echoing throughout the White House. Top aides generally eschewed them, as did those who attended meetings with the president or appeared at his daily public briefings. Certainly, Mr. Pence internalized the message, doing public appearances barefaced even after causing a minor scandal by declining to mask up during his visit to the Mayo Clinic last month, explicitly violating the hospital’s policy. Mr. Pence apologized for the infraction, before settling back into masklessness.

[link] And late in April, a woman whose previous brush with fame included an unsuccessful run for mayor of Roseville was arrested following an altercation at a Nino Salvaggio grocery store in St. Clair Shores, over, you guessed it, her masklessness.

No doubt there's a surge in all derived and inflected forms of the stem mask, including maskless and even unmasked as well as masklessness.


  1. unekdoud said,

    May 13, 2020 @ 7:55 am

    Following the amazing spelling pattern that masslessness generates, I'm going to add messlessness to my vocabulary.

  2. M. Paul Shore said,

    May 13, 2020 @ 10:10 am

    The real question is, when will the authorities have their road-to-demask-us moment?

  3. AntC said,

    May 13, 2020 @ 5:05 pm

    Curiously in New Zealand (zero new COVID cases reported yesterday), the Public Health authorities have never recommended mask-wearing in public. They do emphasise social distancing and hand hygiene. Proper surgical masking is mandated for medical staff.

    The observation is that the effectiveness of masks-at-large is unproven; the cheap paper disposable masks that (for example) Jared Kushner was seen wearing are useless; indeed worse than useless: they get damp, which is a good incubator; they don't seal against your face; they get itchy causing you to fiddle with them so increasing the likelihood of touching your face; they don't get disposed of within an hour, or if they do that's more fiddling near your face.

    OTOH in Taiwan (over a month since a locally-transmitted case) masks are supplied by the government and are required in all public places. (Jared's mask was made in Taiwan.) Masks are commonly worn in Taiwan anyway, to combat air pollution. The government-supplied masks are IIRC three per person per week, which would be nowhere near enough to be effective.

    To mask or not to mask? That is the question

  4. Jerry Friedman said,

    May 13, 2020 @ 8:42 pm

    unekdoud: Physics has "masslessness". I'm sure politics has "classlessness".

    M. Paul Shore: Good one!

    Am I the only one hearing "in maskless shame he dies"? The story starts here.

  5. AntC said,

    May 13, 2020 @ 11:55 pm

    The White House: une ballsup masquée.

  6. Ben Zimmer said,

    May 14, 2020 @ 10:57 am

    Unmasked (and unmasking) may be exploding for entirely different reasons.

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