Word Spy Blog

Working the Pelvic Floor of Language

This week: Do real cowboys get mani-pedis and work their pelvic floor muscles because we live in a culture saturated by images of men who use beards to make themselves to appealing to, well, somebody? (If you happen to be a cowboy or a man with a beard and you find this question offensive, please accept my non-apology in advance.)
Words Spied
Cowboyistan n. Nickname for the industry that drills for and extracts oil and natural gas in the United States. [The New York Times]

fauxlection n. A sham or rigged election (faux + election). [Twitter]

mani-pedi curious adj. Curious about or open to exploring the spa treatment that consists of both a manicure and a pedicure. (Also: mani/pedi curious; cf. bi-curious) [Shop sandwich board (below)] In case you’re wondering, the compound mani-pedi dates to 1972.


Mani-pedi curious. Photo by Paul McFedries.

narcoaesthetics n. Conceptions of female beauty based on the perception of women as decorative objects, particularly within a culture saturated by images of women who have used plastic surgery to make themselves appealing to drug lords. [The Guardian]

pfilates n. Pilates exercises that concentrate on the pelvic floor muscles (pf [from “pelvic floor”] + pilates). [The Globe and Mail]

Word of the Week
onomatapology n. An apology that sounds sincere but falls short of being an actual apology (onomatopoeia + apology).

Jeremy Renner gave the truest version of what I have sometimes called the “onomatopology.” It’s not an apology, but it makes apology noises.
—Linda Holmes, “Jeremy Renner…,” Twitter, April 24, 2015

Cruft* of the Week

Grimbo n. The economic limbo in which Greece is said to be while it negotiates with its creditors (Greece + limbo). [CNBC]

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

Quick Links
10 Americanisms that were originally English

11 Facts Yü Should Know About the Umlaut

How selected consonants sound around Europe, in 9 maps

Singular “they”: the arguments

The Secret Slang of the Diamond District

What unusual phrases does YOUR region use? Interactive grammar map reveals bizarre language differences across the U.S.

Close Quote
Never forget, though, that language is the people’s. Your witless superstition will, by-and-large, be ignored by the speakers of the language, and the alleged impropriety will almost certainly win out in the end. Don’t mistake yourself for a brave defender of our language against the barbarians at the gates when, in truth, you’re nothing but a millennialist shouting about the end-times of the English language. Meanwhile, the world spins on, and the language flourishes, hale and hearty.
—Gabe Doyle, “Singular ‘they’ and the many reasons why it’s correct