Word Spy Blog

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