© 2022 WLRN
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Words Invented By South Florida's I-95 Drivers

Gregory Castillo

When Arthur Bowditch Fay set out to chronicle his 300-mile Interstate 95 commute from Spotsylvania, Va. to Leonia, N.J., he came to the realization that the English language did not have the words to describe what he was seeing and doing.

So he invented those words:

dreamile (noun) [dree-mahyl] “The distance traveled while... daydreaming. Usually nothing of the dreamile is remembered.” middle mushroom (noun) [mid-l muhsh-room] Someone “doing the speed limit or less in the middle of a three-lane section of highway.” pinkage (noun) [ping-kij] “Steering with the pinkie finger only. To be performed at incredibly slow or incredibly fast speeds only.” patellage (noun) [puh-tel-ij] “Manipulating the steerage unit with one’s knee or knees while both hands are employed in other activities.”

Those are just four of the nearly 100 words Fay includes in the glossary of his book “I, 95.” But Fay’s language was inspired by a stretch of highway 1,000 miles to the north. So we asked you to send in any words you’ve come up with for our piece of interstate, for the final 87 miles running through South Florida.

We hope the following is just the beginning of our own I-95 dictionary.

lofti (noun) [lawf-tee] A driving philosophy boiled down to a simple acronym: “look out for the idiots,” explains Danny Aruj, the Coconut Grove father who invented the word. “They just cut you off. They come out of nowhere. They squeeze in between two cars.” Aruj invented the term while teaching his now 17-year-old daughter Bliss to drive. “I was taught from the beginning,” says Bliss “that you needed to drive like everyone else was trying to kill you.” loman (noun) [loh-muh n] A driver with a fundamental “lack of manners,” says word-coiner and Key Biscayne mother Jill Stephens. “When you need to switch a lane, they’re the people who speed up so you’re not going to slow them down.” Stephens adds that a loman is also likely to make a mean face at fellow drivers, incessantly honk their horn or give “the occasional finger.” Stephens invented this and the following two terms to help teach her children to drive. [NOTE: Facebook user Ramze Jimenez proposes the following variation: "drivers with absolutely no courtesy, or... D WAC."] terrodriver (noun) [ter-oh-drahy-ver] A derivation of the word terrorizer, “terrodrivers will be driving 80 to 100 miles per hour,” says Jill Stephens, they “will pull up right to the back of your car, zip around to the front and then continue to change lanes as they move forward.” organ donor (noun) [awr-guh n doh-ner] “Similar to terrodriver,” Jill Stephens says, “they are instead on motorcycles. With or without a helmet.” The term is in reference to the seemingly increased risks faced by these motorists. Stephens acknowledges that the term may be macabre and insensitive but says “it’s the only word I have to describe these guys.” rolling blockade (noun) [roh-ling blo-keyd] “The obstruction created by 3-4 drivers riding alongside one another at the same speed on I-95, preventing any vehicle from passing in any lane,” writes Danielle Range, adding that this term was originally coined by her husband, Gary Range Jr. poll hoppers (noun) [pohl hop-er] One of “those idiots who cross over the plastic polls to and from the express lanes to beat traffic,” writes Public Insight Network member Mark Mussatto.

Certainly this is a tiny subset of the words inspired by I-95. If you missed the initial callout, don’t hesitate to send us your I-95 lexicon. You can send them directly to kmalone@miamiherald.com.

As we receive new additions we'll be adding them below.

rubbernecking puppets (noun)
[ruhb-er-nek-ing puhp-its]
"The mass of people who seemingly communicate telepathically to stop traffic to a crawl due to an irresistible urge to gawk at any minute roadside distraction," writes Raul Rovira of Cutler Bay. Distractions include, but are not limited to "fender benders, a motorist with a flat tire, a police officer writing a ticket or yoga pants."

"RNP's can be identified by their extremely low speed, absolute lack of consideration for people behind them and their hunched, shoulders-forward body positioning. Gripping their steering wheel at the 11 & 1 position as they leer with an open mouth at any roadside distraction."

Rovira notes that "I learned this term from my wife (Eugenia Incer), an almost life-long Miamian and victim of rampant rubbernecking puppetism."

[NOTE: Dianne Walsh pointed out on Facebook that RNPs can also be refered to as "lookie-loos," crediting  "WPLG traffic reporter Constance Jones" for the term.]

Myrtle & Jerry (noun)
[mur-tl and jer-ee]
"Retired snowbirds who hop on the HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lane going 20 miles under the speed limit to get to the nearest iHop," writes Marina Berti who says she drives 60 miles of I-95 everyday.

Miami Slide (noun)
[mahy-am-ee slahyd]
"Any driver that crosses two or more lanes at a time without pausing to exit the highway at last possible moment," writes Matthew Needham.

Here are three terms submitted by I-95 wordsmith Laurie Sheldon.

driku (noun) [drahy - koo] "This is a three-line-poem of five, seven and five syllables respectively," writes Sheldon. The poem is "composed while behind the wheel as a peaceful alternative to developing road rage." Examples of driku composed by Laurie are as follows: Oh evil traffic Miami's worst attribute That and the psychos Clear cut and then paved On four wheels and cylinders Clouds still pass me by gramry (noun) [gram-ree] "The person you're supposed to be looking for during a 'Silver Alert' for a Camry (which, incidentally seems the vehicle of choice for seniors on the loose)." stopportunity (noun) [stop-er-too-ni-tee] "An opening in the front of the usually backed-up line to get onto I-95 north from the 836 caused by someone looking at their phone with their foot on the brake when traffic starts moving again."

NPR was kind enough to give this post a push on Facebook. Here are some definitions that came in from the comment feed.

two-footer (noun) [too-foot-er] "Those who drive with one foot on the accelerator and the other foot on the brake while continuously engaging both," writes Shayne Clayville. DWD (verb) [dee-duhb-uh l-yoo-dee]Stands for "driving while dead... Generally refers to the senior drivers that have no idea they are behind the wheel of a car but can be used for any distracted driver," submits Rebecca Pettersson.  

A few self-explanatory portmanteaus fromm Facebook.

Floridiot (noun) [flawr-id-ee-uh t] "Florida + idiot = Floridiot" writes Richard Casto. Floron (noun) [flawr-on] "Comes from the words Florida and moron," writes Pilly Alvarado. "People who drive like idiots and have no clue they are driving like idiots."

This isn't technically a definition, but it's a pretty great one-liner from Patrick Robert: "I'm pretty sure Miami was the Tequesta word for gridlock."

Keep the terms coming and we'll keep updating this post. Submit your I-95 words (the SFW ones) to kmalone@miamiherald.com