Engineers with Feathers

I just read a surprising article about – of all things – birds’ nests. In “The Marvel in a Bird’s Nest,” Norman Roberts describes recent studies that explore the reasons why nests are so strong and durable. It turns out that birds are marvelous engineers! Click here to read the article:

The real surprise, though, was this sentence, describing how manmade “nests” were subjected to tests in an plexiglass cylinder: “Then the experimenters shmushed the sticks some more, with additional cycles.”

Good for the New York Times! It’s a New York paper, so why not include some authentic New York words once in a while?

But is shmushed a word? Yes. If a group of sounds has a consistent meaning, it’s a word. If you make up a word right now, and give it a meaning, it instantly becomes a word.

But it won’t be a standard word until it starts showing up in formal writing – articles in the New York Times, for example.

Maybe shmushed is on its way! Plenty of New Yorkers already use it.

Photo by By JJ Harrison (


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