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Thinkering

September 3, 2012

Thinkering

verb (present participle of thinker)

1. To mull over, obsess over and otherwise daydream about [an idea], while (a) making changes, additions, adaptations, etc. to the idea and (b) never making any concrete or retrievable record of the object of one’s thinkering.

Example: I’ve been thinkering about a new landscape plan for my front yard.

Coined by Craig Stevenson, 2012, with Cecilia Audubon as his witness.

I wanted to claim this word before anyone else tries to.  It’s going to become all the rage.  Then it will get overused.  Beauty pageant contestants, most notably, will substitute it improperly in place of “thinking” or “tinkering” and English lexicographers will have something else causing them to pull their hair out.

“Thinkering” is basically tinkering with an idea.  It’s something more than a daydream—the idea is changing and developing.  One forms plans about how one might accomplish the idea in reality.  But it has yet to reach any form of reality—it’s not on a to-do list, it hasn’t been written on a piece of paper or typed into a computer.  Once the idea starts to be documented, then one is no longer thinkering—one is thinking.

I was talking with Cec and intended to say, “I’ve been tinkering with an idea.”  But the word came out “thinkering” instead.  And there you have it.

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