Language is a funny thing… “defunked”


Yesterday a local TV station accidentally posted a word that is not a real word, and yet happened to be almost perfect in a semi-humorous way: 

“New life for the former Medley Centre as developers unveiled plans for the defunked mall.”

Now, “defunked” is not a real word. Certainly, it was hastily replaced with “defunct.” Meaning “no longer in use,” “no longer functioning or effective,” defunct was clearly the original intention, for this shopping mall closed several years ago, and has remained closed. It is indeed defunct.

And yet… let’s consider that the building has been empty for several years, that there has been no activity there, but plenty of reported water damage from burst pipes. Can we guess that the atmosphere inside is probably… quite.. funky**? Hence, any plan to bring it back to life may well involve getting it “defunked.” So perhaps whoever made the “error” had logic on his or her side after all.

The language ”authorities” currently indicate that “defunked” is not a word, but maybe…? Could the word have promise for the air-freshener marketers?

Language never ceases to fascinate me.

And thanks to my good friend and writer Ruth Thaler-Carter for catching this error and posting about it. I would have missed it since the correction was made so swiftly.


** (For those unaccustomed to U.S. language usage, “funky” most frequently refers to unpleasant odors. It also has a meanings relating to fearfulness “He’s in a funk about tomorrow’s exam,” and to a style of jazz.)


About Diana Gardner Robinson