Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Wed Jan 18 21:20:21 UTC 2012

On 1/18/2012 4:01 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok<aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      relipid
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Trying to devise etymology of trademarks is a fool's errand, but I
> noticed "relipid formula" in a recent Neosporin commercial and it left
> me scratching my head. While its use as a trademark may make sense, it
> is clearly meant to sound "scientific". The trouble start if you
> recognize what "lipid" is (as most high-school students taking biology,
> middle-school students and people with reasonable post-secondary
> education should). My back-of-the-envelope estimate suggests (and please
> correct me if I am wrong) that the prefix "re-" is productive mostly
> with verbs or derivatives of those verbs or derivatives of words that
> used to be verbs. Plus there is a handful of words that don't actually
> have "re-" as a prefix, but are derived directly from French or Latin
> (e.g., "replendishing", "resplandence", "resplendour")--where they might
> have had a prefix appended at some point but it is no longer transparent
> (and, in some cases, the prefix having only superficial similarity to
> "re-" in the early forms). "Relipid", as a neologism, does not fall into
> any of these categories, although the transparent "etymology" appears to
> be "restoring lipids to the skin" (the expression is associated with
> body lotions and eczema ointments).
> Of course, "relipid formula" is already formally trademarked, although
> there is still plenty of time to object--on trademark, not on linguistic
> grounds.

"Relipidification" (for which the above might be an abbreviation) is
used here and there. Presumably = "putting back the oil" or so (here,
"moistening the skin" or so), from "lipidify" taken as "make oily" or so.

-- Doug Wilson

The American Dialect Society -

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