Debunking the urban legend of the Mensa Invitational

Today, a coworker sent me an email purportedly containing the 2005 winners of the Mensa Invitational, sponsored by The Washington Post.  Being an email administrator, I despise chain letters (though I am a fan of Wired Magazine’s article that traces the history of the oldest email chain letter), joke emails, etc.  But this one did make me smile.  Researching its true origins, however, revealed that not only is this not from 2005, but it is practically urban legend worthy.  First, the text of the email:

The Mensa Invitational once again asked members to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition. Here are this year’s {2005} winners:

  1. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with
  2. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
  3. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating.
  4. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
  5. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period.
  6. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
  7. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
  8. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
  9. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness
  10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
  11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.
  12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
  13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
  14. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
  15. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
  16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
  17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.
  18. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

If you Google any of the terms you will find lots and lots (and lots) of blogs that have posted this as if it were legitimate.  But you can’t find anything on  Well, almost.  There is an archived page on the site for their Style Invitational, which is a weekly column in the Style/Living section.  The page is for Week 281 (08/02/98), but at the bottom it lists entries from Week 278 (07/12/98), containing the very words in question.  If you manually change the URL to use the July 12 date, you get a 404.  I even tried the Wayback Machine, but the Post site isn’t indexed.  So it looks like we’re stuck with only a fragment of the original post.

In any case, the email isn’t real, but the humor remains just as funny.  Thanks to, who blogged about this over a year ago.

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