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I saw the word ‘Bash-a-thon’ in the headline of the Time magazine article (August 3) - ‘Palin Joins in Romney Bash-a-thon’ followed by the lead coy: “In an interview with Hannity, Palin takes Romney to task on debt. Says Bachmann performed better but "I'm not prejudging the field at this point."

I searched several dictionaries including Cambridge Dictionaries online and Free Merriam Webster for the meaning of 'Bash-a-thon,' without finding any entry. There was an example of usage of this word – “I’m ready for a bash athon today. Bring it on.” in forums.silvertails. net.

Although I understand that ‘bash-a-thon’ is ‘bash’ plus the affix, ‘athon’ meaning a long race, I wonder whether ‘bash-a-thon’ is an established English that worth for stowing in my English vocabulary, or just a casual combination of words like ‘McKinley moment,’ Reno era’ or ‘Snake metaphor’ as I posted question yesterday.

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Your work in this particular area is done! If you already recognise -athon you're as good as a native speaker! In this new "interconnected" age, there will be many more neologisms based on that suffix, I'm sure. –  FumbleFingers Aug 4 '11 at 1:09
    
@FumbleFingers. My knowledge of the meaning of ‘bash’ was limited to ‘to hit strongly, attack physically or verbally' as a verb, but I noticed that it has another meaning of ‘a wild merrymaking, or hilarious spree (celebration)’ as a noun by rechecking the meaning of the word on dictionaries after placing the question. Now I’m confused which of ‘attacking / criticizing’ and ‘wild merrymaking / celebration’ the ‘bash’ here represents for. Is it ‘blame a-thon’ or ‘celebration a-thon’? I tried to revisit the whole text of the article to judge on Time archive, but it’s no longer retraceable. –  Yoichi Oishi Aug 4 '11 at 6:15
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In this case, the meaning of bash would be "verbal attack." In the first sentence, "Palin takes Romney to task" means that Palin severely criticizes Romney, which is similar to the sense of bash being used here. –  Nicholas Aug 4 '11 at 6:23
    
@YoichiOishi I don't want to confuse you further, but 'bash' also has another meaning - attempt, or try, especially at something you've never done before or which might seem impossible. For example, your boss asks you if you can clear a huge backlog of work before the end of the day and you reply "I'll have a bash" - meaning it's probably unlikely but you're going to give it your best efforts. You can also say "I'll give it a bash." I don't know if this is widely used or colloquial (UK) English but I thought you might be interested! –  Mynamite Jan 7 '13 at 1:27
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2 Answers

The latter: it's not a standard word that you'll find in any dictionary. The suffix -athon, as you've guessed, comes from marathon, and means "an event, as a sale or contest, drawn out to unusual length, often until a prearranged goal, as the contribution of a certain amount of money, is reached" (according to Dictionary.com).

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One of the joys of language is that words can be manipulated to suit the writer. That 'bash-a-thon' can be understood by the reader is a cause for celebration. By all means one can retreat into standard English for safety, but the hectic joys of neologism shall always beckon. Go forth! Enjoy!

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