Siblings seek to honor father who died of COVID-19 by adding his made-up word to the dictionary

Siblings want to honor dad with dictionary addition
Siblings want to honor dad with dictionary ad... 02:41

Last Updated Apr 16, 2021 7:23 PM EDT

Boston — All you want is a nice, peaceful breakfast. So you slice open an orange or grapefruit and get ready to attack it with a spoon, only to have the fruit's juice hit you right in the eye. 

The phenomenon is well documented in pop culture. But did you know there's a word for what your citrus does to you?

"You get sprayed in the eye and you go, 'Oh, it orbisculated,'" said Jonathan Krieger. 

"It orbisculated," repeated his sister, Hilary Krieger. 

The brother and sister say they picked up that word from their father. 

"As a child, you learn words because your parents use them. And then you start using them. And you don't question — is it a real word?" Hilary Krieger said. 

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Jonathan and Hilary Krieger.  CBS News

Until you're thumbing through a dictionary one day to find there, between "orb" and "orbit," is nothing.

"And I said, 'Dad, what's wrong with this dictionary? Orbisculate isn't in it. And he said, 'Well ... maybe … I might have made this word up,'" Hilary Krieger recalled. 

The Kriegers laughed about that for years. Then last April, their dad, Neil, died of COVID-19. In the days after his death, the "orbisculate" story was one of the few things that still brought them a smile, which gave them an idea. 

"It felt like a very nice way to honor someone at a time when there's not a lot of positive things going on," Jonathan Krieger said. 

They launched a campaign to get "orbisculate" into the dictionary by getting people to use it. First, they came up with a list of 78 goals. 

Get the word in a crossword puzzle: Check. 

Temporarily tattoo it on someone's body: Check. 

Have it appear in a child's chalk drawing: Check. 

A news story: Check 

And in a petrie dish of phosphorescent bacteria: Surprisingly, check. 

Someone even put it on a grocery store sign that said, "Strong possibility of orbisculation." The Words with Friends game added it. One woman wrote it into a song. 

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"Orbisculate" appeared on a warning sign at a grocery store.  Courtesy of Hilary Krieger

Of course, getting "orbisculate" entrenched into our vernacular will be a challenge, but the Kriegers are determined to see this through.

"That would be something our dad would really love," Hillary Krieger said. 

"Definitely," her brother added. 

And you don't need a dictionary to see the meaning of that.


To contact On the Road, or to send us a story idea, email us: OnTheRoad@cbsnews.com.   

  • Steve Hartman
    Steve Hartman

    Steve Hartman has been a CBS News correspondent since 1998, having served as a part-time correspondent for the previous two years.