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Last Week in New Words

Word Spy Monday
Welcome to Word Spy Monday for June 27. The post-Brexit meltdown forecast by the world’s dread merchants appears to be gathering steam and Eurogeddon might be just around the bend. But Word Spy, infused with hopium, will keep calm and carry on rolling out the new words.
Words Spied
adult v. To perform duties and assume responsibilities typically associated with being an adult. [Cosmopolitan]

adult v.
Source: The Internet

antehumous adj. Occurring or arising before a person’s death. (cf. posthumous) [Twitter] The example usage here is anthumous, but I can see no reason to avoid using ante-, which is the standard prefixal opposite of post-. Either way, this term didn’t make the Word Spy cut because it’s quite old, dating to at least the mid 19th century.

Euroskeptic n. A person who distrusts or has reservations about the European Union. Also: Eurosceptic. [Newsweek]

homestay adj. Of or relating to services, such as Airbnb, that enable travelers to stay in the homes of local residents. [CityLab]

Instagram face n. A makeup job characteristic of high-profile Instagram photos. [New York Magazine] The article’s description of this “aesthetic” is worth quoting: “cartoon-smooth skin, perfectly defined flicky eyeliner, cheekbones carved like marble, and strobing so shiny it creates what one makeup artist jokingly described to me as ‘C3PO cheek.’”

juniorization n. The process of replacing older, more experienced employees with younger hires who will work for less money. [The Wall Street Journal]

Word of the Week
scampaign n. A political campaign run as a scam to make money or to enrich the candidate’s businesses, family, or friends.

Within just a few hours after the term was coined, #Scampaign was trending on Twitter in Washington, DC.
—Heather Timmons, “Is Donald Trump’s presidential bid nothing more than a ‘scampaign‘?,” Quartz, June 21, 2016

Cruft* of the Week
femoji n. A female emoji character; an emoji that represents a stereotypically female emotion, condition, or object. (female + emoji) [The Globe and Mail]

Some suggested femojis. Source: Google

“Poorly built, possibly over-complex; generally unpleasant” —The Jargon File.

Quick Links
Commenting by Emoji: A Tentative Glossary for Legal Writing Professors [Improbable Research]

Hail to the ‘Veep’: Our 10 Favorite Words of Season 5 [Wordnik]

Possible names for EU exits for all members of the EU [Quartz]

Word Spy Press
The release date of my book Quote, Words, Unquote is a little over a week away, so there’s still time to take advantage of the reduced pre-order price. The same deal is also available for The Word Spy Guide to Bad Behavior. Your eyes deceive you not. Your fingers know what to do.

Technically Speaking

Available now!

Quote, Words, Unquote

Available July 5th

The Word Spy Guide to Bad Behavior

Available August 1st

Quote, Words, Unquote
“Normally I am positively portmental for a good portmanteau. It’s political portmanteaux that are the problem. Ask me my favourite onscreen couple and I’ll say Bennifer. Ask me my favourite onscreen Batman and I’ll say Battfleck. But using portmanteaux to discuss anything more serious than Ben Affleck’s love life and career is problematic. The phrase ‘Leaving the European Union’ has an appropriate gravity, but the word ‘Brexit’ sounds almost trivial.”
Sam Lewis-Hargreave

Last Week In New Words

Welcome to Word Spy Monday for June 20, 2016. I hope you enjoy these new words, links, and other splendiferous offerings.

Words Spied

ego movement n. The modern trend towards self-display and self-aggrandisement, particularly on social media. [The Globe and MailHat tip to KH for spying this one.

khuligan n. A Russian soccer hooligan. [Foreign Policy (subscription required)]

leapfrogging pp. In a developing country, implementing policies or technologies that enable the country to bypass problems previously encountered in developed nations. [World Economic Forum]

omni-channel adj. Selling goods or services through every available sales channel, particularly offline, online, and mobile. [Tulsa World]

Roald Dahl-ism n. A word or phrase coined by the novelist Roald Dahl. [Twitter]

Roald Dahl-ism: splendiferous

RUD n. The destruction of an object when it accidentally explodes. (From the phrase rapid unscheduled disassembly.) [The Washington Post]

yaysayer n. A person who is generally inclined to agree or to act in a positive manner. (cf. naysayer) [24 Hours Toronto]

Word of the Week

trickle-down racism n. Racism caused by emulating, learning from, or following the example set by a leader.

“I don’t want to see a president of the United State saying things which change the character of the generations of Americans that are following,” Romney said. “Presidents have an impact on the nature of our nation, and trickle down racism and trickle down bigotry and trickle down misogyny — all of these things are extraordinarily dangerous to the heart and character of America.”
—Mitt Romney, quoted in Ali Breland, "Romney: Trump will cause 'trickle-down racism'," Politico, June 10, 2016

Cruft* of the Week

geobusted n. The state of having had one’s location revealed inadvertently, particularly by an app or similar electronic means. [Twitter]

"Poorly built, possibly over-complex; generally unpleasant" —The Jargon File.

Quick Links

"Grief Bacon" And 12 Other Untranslatable Words About Love [Fast Company]

Love them or hate them, emojis make our messages feel more like us [The Guardian]

The [Slang] Word On the Street [Tony Thorne]

This Is Where the Word ‘Dad’ Comes From [Time]

Word Origin Comics: All Lit Up and Nowhere to Go [The Huffington Post]

Word Spy Press Newseltter #1 [Word Spy Press]

Word Spy Press

Word Spy Press is offering special pre-order pricing for Quote, Words, Unquote and The Word Spy Guide to Bad Behavior. What a phizz-whizzing summer it will be!

Technically Speaking

Available now!

Quote, Words, Unquote

Available July 5th

The Word Spy Guide to Bad Behavior

Available August 1st

Quote, Words, Unquote

“There is an obvious need for linguistic renewal and innovation to keep pace with technological and social change and reflecting new influences such as immigration by outside linguistic groups. Within exclusive minority communities, such as street gang members, music genre aficionados and fashionistas, there is also a desire for novelty, originality and authenticity.”
Jasmin Ojalainen

Word Spy Press Newsletter #1

Welcome to the first edition of the Word Spy Press newsletter! Here you'll find a collection of links, images, puzzles, and quotations that will (I hope!) appeal to people who love words. That is, to people like you. Thanks for subscribing and please let me know what you think of the newsletter.

Links for People Who Love Words

Over on Mental Floss, Angela Tung offers 13 Regional Insults to Offend People Across the U.S. Sign me up for some Virgina caviar.

Inc. presents 26 Emotionally Intelligent Words From Around the World You Really Need to Know (subscription required). "Need" is too strong here, but it's an entertaining collection.

The Telegraph reports that Cryptic crossword solvers aren't interested in words and are usually scientists. The headline is misleading, but the research is interesting.

Speaking of cryptics, the crossword puzzle constructor David Astle is getting an apprentice.

Ever wondered which words are the most misspelled in each state? I didn't think so, but Business Insider has it covered anyway.

Spelling mistakes by state

BBC Future has an interesting look at the two word games that trick almost everyone.

I've got some word puzzles below, but if you're looking for more, Merriam-Webster can help.

Images for People Who Love Words

Peep (singular)
The rarely seen singular "peep." Photo: Paul McFedries

Puzzles for People Who Love Words


For this puzzle, your task is to find the seven-letter word that can be formed by taking four unique letters from the word PECKING and adding them to the word NET: two letters to the left and two letters to the right.


I'll provide the answer next week.

Word Smile

Your goal here is to create as many words as you can from the letters shown below. Each word must be at least five letters long and it must include the top letter (H). You can reuse letters as often as needed. Score one point for each word. Add a bonus point if the word uses all seven letters. Add another bonus point for each word that is eight letters or longer.

Word Smile Letters

Smile Rating — 10 pts: Smirking; 15 pts: Grinning; 20 pts: Beaming.

A perfect score is 40 points. I'll post the full solution next week.

Books for People Who Love Words

As the release date of Quote, Words, Unquote approaches, don't forget that you can pre-order the book at a special price. Word Spy Press is also offering special pre-order pricing for The Word Spy Guide to Bad Behavior.

Technically Speaking

Available now!

Quote, Words, Unquote

Available July 5th

The Word Spy Guide to Bad Behavior

Available August 1st

Words for People Who Love Words

“There is a disease which consists in loving words too much. Logophilia first manifests itself in childhood and is, alas, incurable.”
—Peter Ackroyd, English biographer, critic, and novelist

Last Week In New Words

Welcome to the Monday edition of Word Spy for June 13, 2016. Here are the neologisms and neologically-inclined articles I spied last week:
Words Spied
aeroese n. The language used by pilots and others in the aviation industry. [Aeon]

coffee-house macro n. Macroeconomics practice that consists mostly of referencing the theories of great economists of the past. [Bloomberg News]

FOBED n. Reluctance to post something controversial online for fear of being attacked by those who disagree. (From the phrase Fear of Being Eviscerated Digitally) [What Is Paul Thinking?]

serendipitydoodah interjection A cry of exultation upon making a happy discovery. [Twitter]

wind confusion n. Engineering and architectural techniques that prevent high winds from exerting excessive force on a tall building. [The New York Times]

Word of the Week
magic nutritionism n. Non-scientific nutrition advice and practices.

Over the last seven days, a roster of myth-busting nutrition studies were published showing probiotics are unnecessary, GMOs are harmless, and a gluten-free diet is a terrible idea unless you really need to be on it. Basically the only diet fad wisdom that survived this week is the idea that kale is a superfood (and, actually, it kind of is).

“It’s always nice to see studies that are skeptical of magic nutritionism,” said Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an Ottawa-based physician and professor who has a blog on nutrition and diet.
—Kaleigh Rogers, “Probiotics Are Useless, GMOs Are Fine, and Gluten Is Necessary,” Motherboard, May 19, 2016

Cruft* of the Week

ambiguphobia n. The fear of dealing with things that are open-ended or subject to interpretation. (ambiguous + phobia) [Inc.]

“Poorly built, possibly over-complex; generally unpleasant” —The Jargon File.

Quick Links
I Apologize for Inventing the Word ‘Fashionista’ 20 Years Ago [The Atlantic]

The Internet’s Naughtiest Slang Dictionary [The Daily Beast]

The parlance of pilots [Aeon]

WTF are techies saying? A linguistic guide for the aspiring tech hustler [The Guardian]

Word Spy Press
As the publication date of Quote, Words, Unquote draws near, remember that you can pre-order the book at a reduced price. Word Spy Press also offers special pre-order pricing for The Word Spy Guide to Bad Behavior. Serendipitydoodah!

Technically Speaking

Available now!

Quote, Words, Unquote

Available July 5th

The Word Spy Guide to Bad Behavior

Available August 1st

Quote, Words, Unquote

“My story’s always been I’m in my 60s, slang’s in its teens, I will eventually be in my 70s, and maybe even my 80s, but slang will always be in its teens. The gap between me and slang gets bigger all the time.”
—Jonathon Green, a.k.a. “Mr. Slang“, who, without even a hint of FOBED, will be releasing Green’s Online Slang Dictionary this summer. Watch this space for details.

Words That Turn Twenty in June, 2016

In honour of Word Spy’s 20th birthday earlier this year, throughout 2016 I’m highlighting words that are celebrating their own 20th birthdays.

Here’s a list of words that were coined (or have an earliest citation) in June, 1996:

n. A middle-aged person who continues to participate in and enjoy youth culture.
Earliest citation date: June 17, 1996

n. An advertisement that provides detailed information about a product.
Earliest citation date: June 3, 1996

badge ball
n. A ball made up of discarded vistors badges, usually found on the desks of receptionists and security guards.
Earliest citation date: June 23, 1996

commodified leisure
n. Leisure activities that require the purchase of goods or services.
Earliest citation date: June 16, 1996

v. To cause a person to become bored or cynical about work.
Earliest citation date: June 20, 1996

dread merchant
n. A person who makes a living by predicting disasters and worst-case scenarios.
Earliest citation date: June 24, 1996

IP theft
n. The use of copyrighted material without permission, the infringment of a trademark, the violation of a patent, or the stealing in some other way of the intellectual property of a person or company.
Earliest citation date: June 17, 1996

passive overeating
pp. The excessive eating of foods that are high in fat because the human body is slow to recognize the caloric content of rich foods; eating whatever is put in front of you, even to the point of discomfort.
Earliest citation date: June 4, 1996

n. A promotional ad presented as a form of entertainment.
Earliest citation date: June 16, 1996

reset generation
n. Young people who, when a situation becomes difficult or burdensome, quit and start over again in a different situation.
Earliest citation date: June 23, 1996

script kiddie
n. An inexperienced and unskilled “hacker” who attempts to infiltrate or disrupt computer systems by running pre-fabricated scripts designed to crack those systems.
Earliest citation date: June 4, 1996

shock and awe
n. A military strategy in which massive amounts of firepower are unleashed early in a conflict in an effort to force the enemy’s regime to collapse or surrender.
Earliest citation date: June 1, 1996

silent soccer
n. A form of soccer in which spectators are not allowed to yell, cheer, or coach from the sidelines.
Earliest citation date: June 30, 1996

vampire state
n. A country out of which a dictator or ruling elite sucks money and resources.
Earliest citation date: June 4, 1990

virtual volunteering
pp. Performing charity work online.
Earliest citation date: June 1, 1996

Launch Day for Technically Speaking

After 14 years and nearly 90 columns, my book Technically Speaking: What new words and phrases tell us about technology and our increasingly connected lives, is now available in both print and PDF formats (plus a handy print+PDF bundle).There wasn’t much blood, hardly any sweat, and not a single tear, but putting together this book still took a ton of hard work and time. Its was all worth it because the book looks great. I’m proud to offer it to the world, and I hope you’ll take a minute or two out of your busy day to take a look. And, hey, if you like what you see, perhaps you’ll want a copy for your own. Just sayin’!

First Look: Technically Speaking

Technically Speaking launches a week today! Until now it has all seemed more than a little abstract, what with the research, writing, editing, and design of the book all taking place in one electronic format or another. But now bits have magically morphed into atoms because the first samples of the book have arrived from the printer!

The first copies of Technically Speaking have arrived!

The first copies of Technically Speaking have arrived!


Words That Turn Twenty in May, 2016

In honour of Word Spy’s 20th birthday earlier this year, throughout 2016 I’m highlighting words that are celebrating their own 20th birthdays.

Here’s a list of words that were coined (or have an earliest citation) in May, 1996:

n. Substandard head protection, particularly a poor quality hockey helmet.
Earliest citation date: May 10, 1996
n. A programmer who specializes in the Common Gateway Interface scripts that accept and handle input from most web page forms.
Earliest citation date: May 1, 1996
n. When a dog or cat sniffs or jumps onto a counter looking for food.
Earliest citation date: May 25, 1996
n. Feelings of dissatisfaction and mental bloatedness after spending an inordinate amount of time performing a task without tangible benefit.
Earliest citation date: May 1, 1996
n. Gardening that takes places in hostile or difficult conditions.
Earliest citation date: May 28, 1996
n. The practice of creating faked photographs, usually by manipulating the images with software.
Earliest citation date: May 5, 1996
n. A business that combines a grocery store and a restaurant.
Earliest citation date: May 27, 1996
n. Mountain biker slang for a person who commutes to work on a bicycle.
Earliest citation date: May 9, 1996
n. A heterosexual person who is open to relationships with people of the same sex.
Earliest citation date: May 7, 1996
n. A person whose opposition to technology manifests itself in, among other things, a preference for pencils.
Earliest citation date: May 19, 1996
n. A very short literary work, typically no more than a few hundred words.
Earliest citation date: May 11, 1996
n. Attempting to solve a mechanical or electrical problem by hitting or kicking the failed device.
Earliest citation date: May 18, 1996
n. A rebuttal, inserted into an argument, that refutes an anticipated counter-argument; a rebuttal given in advance of another’s argument.
Earliest citation date: May 26, 1996
n. A person who eats only unprocessed, unheated, and uncooked food, especially organic fruits, nuts, vegetables, and grains.
Earliest citation date: May 1, 1996
n. A momentary lapse in memory, particularly one experienced by a senior citizen.
Earliest citation date: May 3, 1996
pp. Repeating a word dozens or even hundreds of times within a web page.
Earliest citation date: May 22, 1996
v. To spend money on items priced below normal retail cost and thus save the difference.
Earliest citation date: May 24, 1996
n. A mother who returns to work soon after giving birth.
Earliest citation date: May 29, 1996
n. A telecommunications tower disguised as a natural object such as a tree, or hidden in a tall structure such as a church steeple or flag pole.
Earliest citation date: May 11, 1996
n. Science that is skewed or biased, especially toward a particular industry.
Earliest citation date: May 8, 1996
n. Computer-generated ads, logos, and products that are superimposed on a live video feed or inserted into a completed movie or television show.
Earliest citation date: May 19, 1996
n. The attitude that a person has just one life to live, so should live it well.
Earliest citation date: May 26, 1996