A word I didn’t remember seeing before in print shows up in today’s story about the opening of school Public schools start with a 1-day week: administrivia.
Here is the quote where it appeared:
“The first days end up being a lot of administrivia,” said Paige Mizak, a parent with two children at Davis Drive Elementary School in Cary. “There’s a lot of housekeeping and things like setting class rules.
Even without looking up the word, I knew exactly what administrivia was. It was clear in the context that it was the paperwork and other details that must be taken care of during the first few days of school: administrative trivia.
My dictionaries don’t have the word. I checked the N&O archives and found that the word had appeared once before in our paper, in a Business story in 2000. I Googled the word, too, and scored millions of hits. Among them was this definition from WordNet: “the tiresome but essential details that must be taken care of and tasks that must be performed in running an organization.”
A Glossary for Molecular Information Theory and the Delila System credits “TD Schneider” with coining the word “before 2000.” A Rice University site about neologisms from a 2003 linguistics class lists administrivia.
Then I did a LexisNexis search of U.S. publications. The first use of the word I found was in 1982 in a Computer World report on office automation. It even appeared in the New York Times in 1984 in a story about school administration.
So, even though it appears that I am way behind the times on this word, it takes its place as my new favorite word — until another one comes along.
This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.