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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

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.

A Really Really Long Poem About Everything

For your muppet-armed delightion this week, a hodgepodge of semicolonectomized neological inventiveness.
Words Spied
adblockalypse n. The predicted demise of online advertising due to the increased consumer use of ad-blocking software. (ad-blocking + apocalypse) [Campaign]

brogressive n. A white, privileged male who ostensibly supports progressive causes and ideas, but who is reluctant to act in ways that might undermine his privilege. [The Guardian]

inculator n. A firm that helps startup companies nurture their ideas and grow their business. (incubator + accelerator) [Devex Impact]

Lampshadinglampshading pp. Wearing thigh-high boots with a baggy top or miniskirt (thereby creating a look that resembles a lamp with a shade). [EllePhoto: Womensforum

mincome n. A guaranteed minimum income for all citizens. (minimum + income). [Saanich News]

muppet arms n. A physical manifestation of extreme happiness. [Twitter (@BookRiot)]

yeo-person nJocular gender-neutral job title to replace “yeoman.” [The New York Times]

Word of the Week
semicolonectomy nThe removal of one or more semicolons from a piece of writing.

In the paragraph above, you could perform a semicolonectomy, replacing every semicolon with a period.
—Allan Metcalf, “Sidestepping the Semicolon,” Chronicle of Higher Education, April 6, 2016

Cruft* of the Week

delightion n. The state of being delighted. [The New York Times]

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

Quick Links

18 Words Californians Gave the English Language [LAist]

The dumbest rule in the AP Stylebook [Baltimore Sun]

J.R.R. Tolkien’s guide to inventing a fantasy language [Quartz]

Shakespeare’s linguistic legacy [Oxford University Press]

Sidestepping the Semicolon [Chronicle of Higher Education]

Why both I and me can be right [The Economist]

Word of the Day: Stumped [The New Yorker]

Quote, Words, Unquote
Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary? When I first read it, I thought it was a really really long poem about everything.”
—David Bowie

Where Were We?

With this edition of Word Spy’s Monday newsletter, I “hop” back into the swing of things to talk about bunnies, bros, snark, the “internet,” and the type of people who point out grammar errors. Absolutely no gobbledygook.

Words Spied

acroname n. A name that is the acronym of a longer name. [Deseret News]

bunny market n. A stock market with no discernible trend (i.e., one that “hops” around). [Wells Capital Management (PDF)]

double celling n. A form of isolated confinement in which two inmates are housed in a single cell. [The Marshall Project]

megaboard n. A massive billboard. [Spacing]

snarkenfreude n. Snide pleasure derived from the misfortune of others. (snark + schadenfreude) [Terrible Minds]

Word of the Week

grammo n. A grammatical error. (c.f. typo)

Less agreeable participants showed more sensitivity to grammos than participants high in agreeability, perhaps because less agreeable people are less tolerant of deviations from convention.
Julie E. Boland and Robin Queen, “If You’re House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages, PLOS One, March 9, 2016

“Less agreeable participants showed more sensitivity to grammos…”

Cruft* of the Week

bro-liferation n. The increased prevalence of young, aggrieved white men. [The New York Times]

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

Internet vs. internet

It was a big deal (in certain circles, anyway) this past week when the AP Stylebook announced it would sanction the all-lowercase form of internet beginning June 1. The backlash was swift and furious (see, for example, the Slate article in the Quick Links, below), but this argument isn’t new. In fact, I wrote about it in IEEE Spectrum way back in 2004 when Wired magazine announced that it would be lowercasing internet. Here’s an excerpt from my column:

But then there’s the “distinct entity” argument: yes we’re all used to the Internet’s existence, but it still seems different somehow. Its not an amorphous quantity like the word television implies (as in, everything on television stinks); and its not a natural phenomenon, like the atmosphere. The Internet is a specific, man-made thing with a unique place in our world.

Ah, I hear you say, but so is the power grid, and nobody writes this phrase as Power Grid. True, but theres an always-on everywhereness to the power grid (recent blackouts notwithstanding), and this mainstream quality makes the all-lowercase spelling feel right. Maybe thats the meat of the matter. When (not if) the Internet becomes as ubiquitous and as unnoticeable and as mainstream as the power grid, perhaps then we’ll come naturally to writing internet.

Are we there yet? Let me know what you think.

Quick Links

A Million Little Boxes (FiveThirtyEight)

Forget being ‘ghosted’ — have you ever been Frankensteined? (The Guardian)

The AP Stylebook Will No Longer Capitalize Internet. What a Shame. (Slate)

The Great Transmogrification of Atoms to Bits (Me in IEEE Spectrum)

The Gobbledygook Memo: Rhodri Marsden’s Interesting Objects No.106 (The Independent)

Shrill voice of Oxford Dictionary shows grating gender bias (Sydney Morning Herald)

Quote, Words, Unquote

“When a term is so devastatingly apposite as gobbledygook, it walks unquestioned into the vocabulary.”
—Eric Partridge, Chamber of Horrors: A Glossary of Official Jargon Both English and American,  A. Deutsch, 1952

Twitter’s Knack for New Words

This week I come not to bury Twitter, but to praise it. Specifically, I want to sing its under-appreciated genius for neological invention, where people tweet not what they had for breakfast, but the word they just coined, the phrase they just made up, the portmanteau they just put together.
Words Spied
ambidisastrous adj. Equally ruinous or calamitous in two ways or along two fronts. (ambi- [“on both sides”] + disastrous) [@DesolateCranium]

aurogenous adj. Aurally pleasing. (aural + –genous; cf. erogenous) [@giggleloop]

courtwalk n. The notional fashion show that women’s tennis is becoming. (tennis court + catwalk) [@VVFriedman]

literallyliterally adj. Definitely not figuratively. [@Rand_Simberg]

loiterature n. Articles, posts, books, or other material that a person reads while waiting. (loitering + literature) [@jeffstrabone]

olfactoid n. An imagined or hallucinated smell. (olfactory + factoid) [@winnig]

Word of the Week
messipe n. An ad hoc or idiosyncratic collection of practices and rules for making a relationship work. (messy + recipe) [@Kendraspondence]


Cruft* of the Week

competitable adj. Responsibly aggressive. (competitiveaccountable) [@RebekahLeach]

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

Quick Links
Analyzing the Dynamic Evolution of Hashtags on Twitter

Cultural Fault Lines Determine How New Words Spread On Twitter, Say Computational Linguists

Diffusion of Lexical Change in Social Media (PDF)

The Language of Twitter (PDF)

The linguistics of self-branding and micro-celebrity in Twitter: The role of hashtags

Twitter shows language evolves in cities

Close Quote
Neology, far from being a separable linguistic phenomenon that manifests itself periodically or sporadically in response to social stimuli, in fact rises out of ordinary linguistic competence, what might be called the linguistic collective unconscious of the speech community.
—Victoria Neufeldt, “A Civil but Untrammeled Tongue: Spontaneous Creativity in Language”

The Nut-Free Edition

This week: Tracking the movements of your company’s work martyr through a peer city using either awareables or spy dust. When you’re done, take a panoselfie, LOL.
Words Spied
awareable n. A device that enhances a person’s awareness; a device that is aware of its surroundings. [Wired]

nut-free adj. Of a building, office, or similar enclosed space, uncontaminated by nuts.


“Nut free.” Photo: Paul McFedries.

peer city n. A city with characteristics that are similar to one’s own city or to the city that one is studying. [Milwaukee Business Journal]

work martyr n. An employee who always works late, does not take vacations, and comes to work even when sick. [Yahoo! Health and Merriam-Webster]

Word of the Week
spy dust n. A powder that enables a person who touches it to be tracked.

A defecting agent revealed that powder containing both luminol and a substance called nitrophenyl pentadien (NPPD) had been applied to doorknobs, the floor mats of cars, and other surfaces that Americans living in Moscow had touched. They would then track or smear the substance over every surface they subsequently touched.

The revelation caused a scandal, not so much because of the tracking, but because of the potential health hazards of what came to be known as “spy dust.”
—Esther Inglis-Arkell, “How the Soviet Union Tracked People with ‘Spy Dust,” io9, May 18, 2015

Cruft* of the Week

panoselfie n. A wide-angle selfie taken using a camera’s panorama mode. (panoramic + selfie) [Medium]

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

Quick Links

Know Your Wearables Slang

Phablets and fauxhawks: the linguistic secrets of a good blended word

Surf Words Are Up! The Language of Surfing

The surprisingly long, unfunny history of ‘LOL’

Worder to prattle box: what to call the talkative person in your life

Close Quote
When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, and clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and affectation.
—Samuel Johnson, Preface to A Dictionary of the English Language

Happy (Belated) Nerd/Geek Pride Day

May 25 was both Nerd Pride Day and Geek Pride Day. Luckily for you, I won’t rehash the old “nerds, geeks: what’s the difference?” debate here, because we’re all nerds and geeks now.
Words Spied
flat white economy n. The economic sector consisting of small firms and startups in the media, technology, and communications industries. [New Statesman]

kayaktivist n. A person who uses a kayak to take part in a protest or similar act of civil disobedience. (kayak + activist) [NPR]''Kayaktivists. Source: Greenpeace USA.
nones n. People who who are not affiliated with or a member of an organized religion. [USA Today]

ragescroll v. To scroll angrily, particularly to the bottom of a page or message for further actions (such as unsubscribing or contacting customer service). [Twitter]

shadow impact n. The effect that a shadow cast by a tall building has on the surrounding area. [Inside Toronto]

Word of the Week
book desert n. An area that has few or no bookstores, libraries, or other sources of books.

Like a food desert—an area where fresh, nutritious foods are difficult to find or afford—a book desert is a place where books are difficult to access. There are technology, transportation, time, and financial barriers that prevent millions from reading books.
—Kathryn Jaller, “How Little Free Libraries Plant Reading In Book Deserts,” Chronicle Books, April 16, 2015

Cruft* of the Week

Scoxit n. The exit of Scotland from Great Britain. (Scotland + exit) [Breaking Views]

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

Quick Links

Being an archaeodialectologist

Cash crisis threatens dictionary of US regional English

Emoji the big new language? I’d rather take to cave art

Food Mashups: from cronuts to totchos

How Vox is Like Urban Dictionary

What’s the Difference Between “You” and “U”?

Close Quote
I am an unrepentant, irremediable word nerd and proud of it, for language is the most pleasant obsession I know.
—Charles Harrington Elster

The Panoptiboss Is Watching

This week we learn that it might help to have granny hair when yardsaling your fan-freaking-tastic truck nuts. Sinceriously.
Words Spied
granny hair n. On a young woman, hair that has been dyed gray or silver. [Reuters]

diskiness n. A measure of how much the shape of an elliptical galaxy resembles a disk as opposed to a box. [Columbia University]

panoptiboss n. A manager who uses technology to track the location and job performance of his or her employees. (Panopticon +  boss) [Twitter]

transwording ppBlending words from two or more languages to create a new word. [Latino USA]

yardsaling pp. Organizing and running a yard sale, particularly to benefit a charity.


Photo: Paul McFedries.

Word of the Week
sinceriously adv. With sincerity and purpose. (sincerity + serious) [Note: You can purchase “Sinceriously” t-shirts to benefit charity; Just be warned that the shirt “defines” this adverb twice: once as a noun and once as a verb!]

Uhm, Wakanda is a Metropolis! At-least according to what I have heard, that city where Hulk and Ironman fight is Wakanda…. But Wakanda is supposed to be a tribe-like city, not what we saw, I sinceriously hope that is not Wakanda.

—Robert Henry Chop, “Nitpicking Avengers: Age of Ultron (spoilers),” Moviepilot, May 3, 2015

Cruft* of the Week

truck nuts n. A plastic accessory that attaches to a truck or other vehicle and is designed to resemble a pair of dangling testicles. [City Lab] Also: trucksticles (of course).

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

Quick Links
“-core” Is the Suffix of Our Time

Fanf—kingtastic and Edumacational: The Case of English Infixation

“I had a constant toothache in my back”: learning the language of pain

Icelandic Has the Best Words for Technology

The Timelines of Slang

Close Quote
Where some other languages may soberly cherish the sanctity of their word forms and vocabulary, English is notorious for being playful and expressive with its linguistic morphology or word-building. Well-known examples of the infixation phenomenon are the colorfully offensive expletive infixation, the so-called Homeric ma-infixation, the Flanderian diddly-infixation and hip hop’s ‘iz’/’izn’ infixation (shiznit and the like).

—Chi Luu, “Fanf—kingtastic and Edumacational: The Case of English Infixation

Verbing Marilyn Monroe

This week: Marilyn Monroe as a verb, the literary equivalent of the sleeveface, a new low (ahem) for the selfie, and a new meaning for the word “mom.”
Words Spied
Marilyn Monroe v. To have one’s clothing billowed up or away from one’s body by a sudden gust of wind. [Twitter]

obliviobesity n. Childhood obesity caused by parents who are oblivious to their children’s eating habits and weight gain (oblivious + obesity). [Daily Mail]

sexification n. The process of transforming something from modest or demure to sexually provocative or risqué. [The Atlantic]

smart v. To implement information technologies and networks to make something more efficient and responsive. [Deccan Chronicle]

Word of the Week

bookface n. A photo in which the front cover of a book fully or partially obscures a person’s face or other body part to artfully extend the cover image. (To the word nerds at Wordnik who alerted me to this term, picture me with this book held up to my face.)

How complicated can it be to take a photograph of a book cover for the purpose of posting it on Instagram? Fairly complicated, particularly for those trying to create an image in what has become known as “bookface” style.
—Rachel Kramer Bussel, “Oh, Those Clever Librarians and Their #Bookface,” The New York Times, May 1, 2015


Bookface. Source: Supkaa via Ezzulia.

Cruft* of the Week

underboob selfie n. A photograph that a woman takes of the lower half of her breasts and posts online. [Daily Express] (Thanks to Katherine Barber for spying this one.)

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

Quick Links
Dictionary.com Explains How a Word Becomes “A Word”

Gender neutral honorific Mx ‘to be included’ in the Oxford English Dictionary alongside Mr, Ms and Mrs and Miss

Tex-Mex Terms in English

What Does “Mom” Mean in Internet Slang?

Close Quote
I think the relationships that survive in this world are the ones where two people finish each other’s sentences. Forget drama and torrid sex and the clash of opposites. Give me banter any day of the week.
—Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus!