In the comments to Food Truck Foolishness”, I used the word “pelmatophobe”, and Ward asks what it means.
It’s a recent coinage that’s not in any dictionary (or even Google).
The thing is, we really need a word for those with an irrational fear of bare feet. Or, contrary-wise, a word for those who really prefer to go barefooted.
However, you run into trouble is you try to use Greek or Latin roots to construct such a word. The Latin word for foot is “pes”, with the combining form “ped-”. You see this, for instance, in “biped” or “pedal”.
So, let’s try it out:
Oops. Not good.
It seems that “ped” also refers to children, as in “pediatrician”. (It’s a slightly different Latin root that became the same in English.)
Well, the Greek root is “ποῦς” (“pous”) with the English combining form “pod-”. How about that?
Another oops. That’s already taken by the foot fetishists.
So we need something else.
In thinking about it, the thing that really annoys the foot phobes is the bare sole touching the ground. They are perfectly happy with flip-flops, even though every part of the bare foot can be seen on somebody wearing a flip-flop. Heck, you can even see the sole as it flips and flops.
So, can we use a Greek root for sole? Well, yes. Yes we can.
The Greek word for sole is “πέλμα” (“pelma”), and it has the combining form “pelmato-”.
So, that leads to both “pelmatophile” (for us) and “pelmatophobe” for those with the irrational fear of the bare-soled.
By the way, if you trace the origin of “πέλμα” back into Indo-European, it meant “flat” or “spread”, and also gave rise to the Greek word “παλάμη” (“palame”). That is where we got the English word “palm”, which is also flat, and is a similar part of our anatomy.
Based upon some facebook discussion, let me clarify a bit.
I’m not suggesting that “pelmatophile” really ought to be used to describe barefooters. “Barefooters” works just fine for that. What I like the “pelmato-” construction for is for describing pelmatophobes, those barefoot haters who are completely unsusceptible to reason. No matter what argument we use, they are sticking to their irrationality. “Pelmatophobe” is perfect for that, and almost makes it sound like a clinical disorder.
So “pelmatophobe” is the word I think could use greater currency (and it’s also the one I used in the post Ward mentioned, and in this one.)