Printable Version
Pronunciation: no-mê-fo-bi-ê Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass (No plural)

Meaning: The fear of being without a working cellphone.

Notes: This is another nonce word which just may make it into the general vocabulary—like butt-dial seems to. (My spellchecker doesn't flag the word even today.) A person suffering from this malady would be a nomophobe with nomophobic tendencies.

In Play: Aaaargh!Forgetting their cellphone at home can put a nomophobic in a state of panic: "Gloria Sass suffers from nomophobia so badly that she can't forgo looking at her cellphone every five minutes." If you see a screenager in a state of panic, they may have a cellphone with a dead battery and no place to plug it in: "Look at that nomophobic glow-face over there running about looking for a place to plug in her mobile phone."

Word History: Today's Good Word was coined during a 2010 study by YouGov to look at anxieties suffered by cellphone users. YouGov contrived to fit together the phrase "no mo(bile)" + phobia "fear (of)" as a heuristic convenience. It seems to have slipped into general usage. Mobile comes, via French, from Latin mobilis, a reduction of movibilis, an adjective from movere "to move". The past participle of this word is motus "moved". We can see this root in motive, motor, and remote, which is about as removed as one can get. (Today we thank Iain Smallwood, who was moved to suggest this up-and-coming Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

P.S. - Register for the Daily Good Word E-Mail! - You can get our daily Good Word sent directly to you via e-mail in either HTML or Text format. Go to our Registration Page to sign up today!