Printable Version
Pronunciation: mem-kahn Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A memorandum of a conversation.

Notes: This word is a 'clipping blend'. The first three letters of memorandum, mem-, has been linguistically blended with the first three letters of conversation, -con. Clippings are shortenings of words, like doc is a clipping of doctor, memo, of memorandum, and Stu, of Stuart. Blends are words made up of parts of other words, as smog is a blend of smoke + fog and motel blends motor + hotel.

In Play: This word became relevant recently with the news that former FBI director James Comey kept memcons of all his important conversations, including those with the President. Memcoms, written contemporaneously with the conversation in question, are considered more reliable than later recollections, since they are written when the conversation is fresh in memory.

Word History: This is a word former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York used in the early 1990s according to Lawrence O'Donnell, an aide to Moynihan during the same period. Moynihan probably acquired this word from the FBI, for a former FBI agent recently said on national TV that he was taught by the FBI that no event occurred unless there is a piece of paper saying that it did. Memorandum in Latin meant "thing to be remembered", the neuter singular of memorandus "worthy of remembrance, noteworthy", the gerundive of memorare "to call to mind". This verb was based on memor "mindful". The same PIE word that went into the making of memor turned up in Old English murnan "to mourn", which became mourn in Modern English.

Dr. Goodword,

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