Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New words in circulation

Language is not and never has been static - new words come into use while other words drop out of use. Oxford University Press has produced a list of words that it is adding to its US dictionary, given below. But first is a list of some of the new words and terms from the earlier part of this decade. Those interested in more will find some on our webpage for The New Gobbledygook (our main website, not the shop site where it can be purchased) and of course a lot more are in the book itself.


BLAMESTORMING: Sitting in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

SEAGULL MANAGER: A manager who flies in, makes a lot of noise, criticizes on everything, and then leaves.

CHAINSAW CONSULTANT: An outside expert brought in to reduce the employee headcount, leaving the top brass with clean hands.

CUBE FARM: An office filled with cubicles.

IDEA HAMSTERS: People who always have their idea generators running.

MOUSE POTATO: The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

PRAIRIE DOGGING: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

SITCOMs: (Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage) What yuppies turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

SQUIRT THE BIRD: To transmit a signal to a satellite.

STARTER MARRIAGE: A short-lived first marriage that ends in divorce with no kids, no property and no regrets.

STRESS PUPPY: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out.

SWIPED OUT: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

TOURISTS: People who take training classes just to get a vacation from their jobs. "We had three serious students in the class; the rest were just tourists."

TREEWARE: Hacker slang for documentation or other printed material.

XEROX SUBSIDY: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

GOING POSTAL: Euphemism for being totally wacked out, and losing it. Makes reference to the unfortunate track record of postal employees who have snapped and gone on wild rampages.

ALPHA GEEK: The most knowledgeable, technically proficient person in an office or work group.

BROWNMOSIS: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

CHIPS & SALSA: Chips ? hardware, Salsa ? software. "Well, first we gotta figure out if the problem's in your chips or your salsa.

YUPPIE FOOD STAMPS: The ubiquitous $20 bills spewed out of ATMs everywhere. Often used when trying to split the bill after a meal, "We each owe $8, but all anybody's got are yuppie food stamps."

CLM - Career Limiting Move: Used among microserfs to describe ill-advised activity. Complaining about your boss while he or she is within earshot is a serious CLM.

ADMINISPHERE: The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve.

DILBERTED: To be exploited and oppressed by your boss. Derived from the experiences of Dilbert, the comic strip character. "I've been dilberted again --our boss revised the specs for the fourth time this week."

GENERICA: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, subdivisions. Used as in "We were so lost in generica that I forgot what city we were in."

OHNOSECOND: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake.

FLIGHT RISK: Used to describe employees who are suspected of planning to leave a company or department soon.

PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE: The fine art of whacking an electronic device to get it to work again.

UNINSTALLED: Euphemism for being fired. Heard on the voice-mail of a vice president at a downsizing computer firm: "You have reached the number of an Uninstalled Vice President. Please dial our main number and ask the operator for assistance. *(Syn: decruitment.)


The 2009 Word of the Year is: unfriend.

UNFRIEND – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.
As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.”


HASHTAG – a # [hash] sign added to a word or phrase that enables Twitter users to search for tweets (postings on the Twitter site) that contain similarly tagged items and view thematic sets

INTEXTICATED – distracted because texting on a cellphone while driving a vehicle

NETBOOK – a small, very portable laptop computer with limited memory

PAYWALL – a way of blocking access to a part of a website which is only available to paying subscribers

SEXTING – the sending of sexually explicit texts and pictures by cellphone


FREEMIUM – a business model in which some basic services are provided for free, with the aim of enticing users to pay for additional, premium features or content

FUNEMPLOYED – taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests

ZOMBIE BANK – a financial institution whose liabilities are greater than its assets, but which continues to operate because of government support

Politics and Current Affairs

ARDI – (Ardipithecus ramidus) oldest known hominid, discovered in Ethiopia during the 1990s and announced to the public in 2009

BIRTHER – a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama’s birth certificate

CHOICE MOM – a person who chooses to be a single mother

DEATH PANEL – a theoretical body that determines which patients deserve to live, when care is rationed

TEABAGGER - a person, who protests President Obama’s tax policies and stimulus package, often through local demonstrations known as “Tea Party” protests (in allusion to the Boston Tea Party of 1773)


BROWN STATE – a US state that does not have strict environmental regulations

GREEN STATE – a US state that has strict environmental regulations

ECOTOWN - a town built and run on eco-friendly principles

Novelty Words

DELEB – a dead celebrity

TRAMP STAMP – a tattoo on the lower back, usually on a woman

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