Word of the Month: Orbisculate

David Zapatka

We’re doing something different this month. We’re going to explore getting a new word into dictionaries. Reader Debbie M. writes, “Hello, I enjoy your column and want to offer a suggestion. ‘Orbisculate’ is a word not yet in the dictionary. I think we should help the young people who are trying to get this word into the dictionary to honor their father. Their complete story can be found at orbisculate.com. We should help them. It’s a great word.”

Just prior to reading Debbie M’s request, I had read about the “Orbisculate” campaign and heard from another reader.

Orbisculate or·bis·cu·late / ȯr-bis-kyoo-leyt /orbisculated; orbisculating; orbisculates intransitive verb. 1. to accidentally squirt juice and/or pulp into one’s eye, as from a grapefruit when using a spoon to scoop out a section for eating. 2. to accidentally squirt the inner content from fruits, vegetables, and other foods onto one’s face, body, or clothing, or onto that of a person nearby.

Orbisculation Or·bis·cu·la·tion / ȯr-bis-kyoo-ley-shuhn/ noun 1. the act or process of orbisculating.

Origin and Etymology: arbitrary coinage; originated by Neil Krieger, American, 1941-2020” (Who We Are)

First Used: late 1950s

Examples of orbisculate and orbisculation in sentences: ‘Why are you squinting, dear?’ ‘It’s nothing. The grapefruit I was eating just orbisculated into my eye.’ ‘I need to sit farther away from you. The tomatoes you’re chopping just orbisculated on me.’ ‘Wow, check out the trajectory of orbisculation from this lime!’ ‘Hey, you have something on your shirt.’ ‘Oh no! That must be from the orbisculation of the orange I had earlier. This is why I should never wear white.’” (Who We Are)

You can find plenty more on the campaign to get “orbisculate” into the dictionary at orbisculate.com. Here is a snippet from that site to entice you to check it out.

“Our dad invented the term we’re trying to get in the dictionary while he was a student at Cornell University in the late 1950s. It was hardly the first time he expressed an affinity for food. As a child he spent time in and around the chicken coops of the poultry store his grandfather had started after immigrating from Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century. By 14 he was working in his parents’ restaurant at Brooklyn’s Bossert Hotel, where he also lived. The restaurant was a popular destination for many, including his hero, Jackie Robinson. When the Brooklyn Dodgers won the World Series in 1955, they hosted the victory party.

“Orbisculate was hardly our dad’s most important creation. He also invented a safer form of anesthesia, pioneered an annual family greeting card that people actually enjoy getting and did a pretty good job raising the two of us. When he passed away from COVID-19, his (virtual) shiva was attended by dear friends from around the world who had known and loved him for decades.” (Definition & Petition)

Please submit any orbisculating memories you may have or any word you may like to share along with your insights and comments to [email protected].


“Who We Are.” Orbisculate, www.orbisculate.com/who-we-are.

“Definition & Petition.” Orbisculate, www.orbisculate.com/definition-petition.