New Words by the Boatload

The word for a new word or expression is neologism, and in this day and age neologisms are being deposited in the American English word bank at an ever-faster clip. Computer expert and bestselling author Paul McFedries has done Wordies a big favor by channeling new words and terms into the website he calls Word Spy. To browse words such as enviropig, naycation, and yetti, go to Alpha Archives in the right-hand column and click on one of the letters of the alphabet. Alongside the definition of each word in the list are sample citations and related words and categories.

Three tasty appetite-whetters are phobias. One, nomopobia (no + mobile),  is the fear of being without a mobile phone. Hoplophobia (from hoplo, a horizontal portal) is the fear of guns. And try this one on for size: paraskevidekatriaphobia, the word for fear of Friday the 13th.

Like nomophobia, many of the Word Spy entries are portmanteau words (blends),* and these are specified as such in the wide-ranging examples below. In groupings of my own devising, the twenty definitions are condensations of those in the website.

Sports and Pastimes

  • lake lice  Pejorative name for jet skis and other motorized personal watercraft
  • client golf  Golf played at a lower level so as not to defeat a business client
  • racino (racetrack + casino)  A horseracing track that also includes slot machines and other casino features
  • gurgitator  A person who competes in eating contests
  • fastpacking  Running on a nature trail while wearing a backpack

Day-to-Day Doings

  • bobo (short for bourgeois and bohemian)  A person who combines personal success and affluence with a penchant for countercultural ideals and artifacts
  • lifestream  Online record of one’s daily activities, either via direct video feed or the aggregation of blog posts, social network updates, photos, and other online content
  • address munging  Altering an e-mail address in an effort to thwart spammers
  • bagonize (bag + agonize)  To wait anxiously for one’s suitcase to appear on an airpot baggage carousel
  • opportunivore  One who eats whatever he or she can find, especially food that has been discarded

Business and Finance

  • dead cat bounce  A temporary recovery from a major drop in a stock price
  • cradle-to-gate  A product’s life cycle from inception to the point when it leaves the manufacturer
  • silent run  An online user’s mass transfer of funds out of a troubled bank
  • success disaster  Massive problems resulting from a person or company’s inability to handle overwhelming success
  • geek gap  The disparity between executives who approve or oversee technological projects they don’t understand and the IT workers who implement and maintain the projects

Media and IT

  • chatterati (chat + literati)  Elite members of broadcasting’s talking-head class
  • pencil-whip  To severely criticize in writing
  • advertorial/edverotial (advertise + editorial)  An advertisement designed to resemble editorial content
  • diaper change  Visit by a tech support employee to a troublesome user of a computer
  • viewser (viewer + user)  One who watches regular TV while following video content online or on a computer

Word Spy entries could also help you grow aware of certain dos and don’ts. For instance, if you post content meant to make yourself appear more successful than you actually are, you’re guilty of what is called success theater. That there is a word for this practice suggests that such gilding of the lily is easily recognized – and this alone may spur you to cease and desist.

*For blends that are age-old in comparison, go to Fused Words.

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