"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."

Sunday, 18 January 2009


Resistentialism is a jocular theory in which inanimate objects display hostile desires towards human beings. For example, objects that cause problems (like lost keys or a fleeing bouncy ball) exhibit a high degree of resistentialism. In other words, a war is being fought between humans and inanimate objects, and all the little annoyances objects give people throughout the day are battles between the two. The term was coined by humorist Paul Jennings in a piece titled "Report on Resistentialism" published in 'The Spectator' in 1948.

Resistentialism is an example of the 'perversity of inanimate objects' or the 'innate perversity of inanimate objects'. This phrase (now abbreviated to IPIO) has been attributed to a variety of authors but the earliest appears to be Mary Abigail Dodge (March 31, 1833 - August 17, 1896) - an American writer and essayist who wrote under the pseudonym Gail Hamilton.


  1. Thanks, that's interesting; I couldn't say where I first read or heard it. Here's one from a book of Scottish words: what is a 'whigmaleerie'?

  2. Whigmaleerie is so good I'll have to do a separate posting!