New preposition

It’s been too long since English had a new preposition.  I don’t know when the last one entered the lexicon, maybe whenever “between” stopped being two words, but it’s high time it happened again.  I have a suggestion for a preposition that might fill a gap in our 21st century vocabulary.

That is virin, a combination of viral and in.  It means “throughout or among a group, passed from one member to another”.  Like “among”, it requires a plural noun or group noun (like “audience”) recognizable as composed of objects that are similar to one another.  Unlike “throughout” or “among” it specifies a rough means of transmission.

For example,

  • “Gangnam Style is popular virin younger generations worldwide.”
  • “Heat is absorbed virin the steel.”
  • “The wildfire spread virin the forest.”
  • “The contagion was introduced to the town via livestock and was passed from person to person virin the population.”

As a preposition it generally appears in phrases that follow a noun or verb, free-floating somewhere towards the end of a sentence.  It collocates with verbs of transmission and spreading.

It most naturally describes the motion or state of things whose consistency and character is not modified by spreading, i.e. not physical substances that get thinner or become tarnished by being spread over a wide area or coming into contact with many people.  That makes it a perfect fit for viruses, genes, binary off-on states (e.g., dirtiness but not dirt); and most befitting our new cultural landscape, memes like Gangnam Style in the example above.

It replaces adverb-preposition combinations like “(spread) virally throughout” or “(is reproduced) faithfully among”.  I hope you see the utility of this new word and start using it, and future linguistic historians remember that this blog coined the word first.  Right after they look up what a “blog” is.

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