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New Words

Written by Jaqui Lividini

In Marist College’s recent poll of the most annoying words, the word whatever (imagine whateeeverrr in a dismissive tone with an eye-roll) took top prize. I seldom say whatever but have learned the sign language forit,and when I am well and truly annoyed, I “think sign” it to myself. (You start with palms to chest and then flap them back and forth several times.) Wonderfully efficacious! A father of teens tells me a new, abbreviated, even snottier version is whatev.

Another new term I discovered lately is brokavore, a pauper variation on the princely locavore, someone who eats well on locally produced foods for flavor and sustainability. A brokavore who does so with little money might also be a DUMPIE, or downwardly mobile professional, the opposite of YUPPIE. A CSA sounds like a an investment a DUMPIE lost money in, but stands for Community Supported Agriculture, like organic farmers who deliver produce in season to regular customers.


Also in the food world, a vegangelical is a scrawny zealot who subsists on lemon grass and thinks you should, too. It’s enough to make a fella throw a mantrum. (Thanks, Jon Gosselin , for contributing that one to the language.)

From the Urban Dictionary ( comes the catchy caraoke, for belting songs full-blast with the car radio -- especially satisfying with melodramatic oldies like Vikki Carr’s “It Must Be Him” about a woman awaiting a phone call: “Let it please be him, oh dear God, it must be him, or I


shall die." I also like remembeer, for a night lost to drinking. Just for giggles, try it with song or movie titles like Try to Remembeer or Remembeer the Alamo. Thanks to whatever monkeyshines those pilots were up to, the newly minted Northwest Nap means a sleep so profound not even the Air Force can wake you up.

Technology supplies a rich vein of new words like cyberchondriac and vook. Bet you’re one step ahead of me here -- a cyberchondriac starts out googling “tingly fingers” and ends up diagnosing herself with MS. A vook blends book and video, although you have to admit “No more school/No more vooks/No more teachers’ dirty looks” doesn’t have the same ring. A vook is an e-book with video and audio embedded in it; a vook about the sixties might have video of JFK’s fateful Dallas motorcade and audio from Bob Dylan. I’ll go to my grave calling any form of substantial reading matter that you can hold a book, just as my father called movies the moving picture show and referred to the refrigerator as the icebox.

The phrase data Valdez, for a huge accidental leak of private information, contains a mini history lesson with its reference to the 1989 Valdez oil spill. And a robocall is a recorded telemarketing message -- imagine how crushed I was last fall when I thought Hillary was taking time out from her frantic schedule to seek out little moi,


but realized what was up when she yakked right over me.

The recession is at least making us rich in the newly coined terms of reccessionese, like zombie banks (zero net worth but nonetheless insured), mini-Madoff (bilking people on a modest scale), or being Bangalored (having your company or project outsourced to India).

A whole book could be written about how the latest epidemic came to be called the swine flu. And while I empathize with pork producers’ efforts to corral the pigheaded media into calling it the H1N1 virus, which doesn’t roll as colorfully or easily off the tongue, journalists remain as independent as a hog on ice. Even the State Fair hog-calling champion isn’t going to lure that little piggy back into the holding pen.


Swine flu or H1N1? Whatev!

Rebecca Christian is a columnist for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa, where this was originally published.


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