Q: Here in the Washington area a lot of words seem to be created for government use only. Just on a lark, I tried several years ago to create one myself and inject it into the language. Have you ever heard “logisticate” used anywhere?
A: No, we haven’t heard it used, but we’ve had a fair number of sightings since your question arrived in our inbox and we began looking into the usage.
You won’t find “logisticate” in standard dictionaries—we checked eight of them and drew a blank. Nor will you find it in the Oxford English Dictionary, the largest dictionary of the English language.
However, “logisticate” is out in the ether—barely. We googled it and got 19,300 hits, but the number shrank to 118 when we actually began clicking on them. (Whassup with that, Google?)
You didn’t mention when you first thought of the word and how you tried to spread it. But “logisticate” has been around for more than seven years, and perhaps longer.
The earliest example we’ve found is from the online Merriam-Webster Open Dictionary, which lets readers submit new words for consideration by the M-W editors.
A Dec. 4, 2006, submission from a reader in the UK suggested “logisticate” and offered this definition:
“To think about or discuss the problems of moving materials or the details of a problem and how to solve it. To rethink etc would therefore be to relogisticate.”
The same contributor reported a June 2004 sighting of “relogisticate,” but we haven’t been able to confirm it.
The M-W Open Dictionary also has a July 1, 2006, entry from an anonymous contributor for “logisticize,” which is defined as “To organize the logistics of (an occasion). To plan (as a trip, party, or major event).”
The entry includes this example: “We have so many events to logisticize this year that my siblings with the planning gene will be in ecstasy.”
A Sept. 25, 2008, contribution to Urban Dictionary, another reference that relies on user-submitted entries, defines “logisticate” this way: “to provide the vision and overall direction for a task that will be completed by other people.”
The entry includes this example: “The Laundry will be picked up, sorted, pretreated, washed, dried, folded, pressed, hung and then delivered same day as per your wishes, but I’ll be sure to check in with the team ahead of time to logisticate.”
Urban Dictionary also has a reader-submitted Nov. 30, 2010, entry for “logisticize,” with this definition: “To work out details or a schedule; to make a plan in detail; to finalize the logistics of an appointment, a meeting or an engagement.”
The entry has two examples: “There will be a big crowd at the concert, so we’d better logisticize” … “Let’s logisticize now, so there’s no confusion later.”
Both “logisticate” and “logisticize” are mushy and formless, in our opinion. If a word has too many interpretations, and if others do the job better, what’s the point in using it?
In a Feb. 16, 2010, blog post about business jargon, the CNBC reporter Jane Wells condemns “logisticate” as the “worst violation of sane speech I’ve heard.”
“Readers, let’s stop the madness,” she writes. “Going forward, let’s effort to logisticate a path to sanity. Next time someone talks to you in such a manner, say, ‘Excuse me, but you could speak English?’ ”
Well, she got that off her chest. We don’t particularly like bizspeak, but we suspect that “logisticate” may already be past its sell-by date.