More quirky words you may not need

I’ve had enough of politics for the day so here are some fun/not-fun words from my bulging file of “Words You May Be Hearing These Days….But Wish You Hadn’t.”

As many of you know, I collect words like some people collect butterflies or old typewriters This set is mostly new to me but there are a few old faves that you might like to know about, even if you don’t have occasion to use (and in some cases, better that you don’t)

 Here we go…

turnt  (adj): excited, having a really good time, possibly with the help of alcohol or drugs (Macmillan). Meanwhile from Urban Dictionary: a variation of “turned” used only to describe when someone is excessively excited or prepared for the current event. In it’s entirety, it can commonly be seen used as turnt up,” as in “turned up.” (heard on Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show)

bumps (noun) short clips of music used by podcasts and radio shows as signature or theme music to buffer transitions between programming elements. Also “bumper music” or “bumps.”

onion (noun): an ethnic/racial barb for Armenian immigrants (see Rescued reference, below). Like most ethnic terms, not to be used lightly or by those outside the group. “You know, I only let my friends call me onion. And even then I ain’t so sure I like it” (p.12). Onions are a staple of Armenian cuisine but we can probably do without more ethnic characterizations.

poop in a group (verb phrase): (1) “get your shit together” (2) A group of friends that meet at a certain time and bathroom in order to converse while pooping in different stalls (3) group of dog walkers

boss up (verb) (student slang): take responsibility for things going on in your life

fisk (verb) (slang) to refute or criticize (such as a journalistic article or blog) point by point. In Aug. 2017, this verb emerged from a video the National Rifle Association posted to its Twitter account. The clip featured shrieking right-wing NRA personality Dana Loesch promising, among other things, that she and the NRA would “fisk” The New York Times. (Some originally thought she said “fist” which was later clarified by means of the transcript)

Shepard tone (noun):  a sort of an audio barber pole — a spooky auditory illusion, like an M.C. Escher drawing, where a tone continually ascends or descends in pitch, but seems to get no higher or lower — named after cognitive scientist Roger Shepard. Used in movies like The Dark Knight (2008) and Dunkirk (2017) as well as Pink Floyd’s song Echoes from the 1971 album Meddle. (listen to this sound file for the effect)

hockey stick growth (noun): a sharp increase that occurs suddenly after a short period of inactivity or dormancy. A hockey stick chart displays data at low-level activity (y-axis) over a short period of time (x-axis), then gets a sudden bend and finally a long and straight rise at a steep angle.

shadow ban (noun and verb): when someone’s posts on a social media platform are rendered invisible to everyone but themself. The term is somewhat controversial since it’s not exactly clear which platforms are actually doing this and it seems to have different implementations. The point though is that your experience using the site may not change — it feels like you’re still posting normally — but other people can’t see your stuff…supposedly. See The Reality Check podcast #518 (8 Oct. 2018) for a great discussion and NYT article “What Is a ‘Shadow Ban,’”

showmance (portmanteu noun): show romance — romantic relationship between two members of the cast of a play, film or television series. Often a publicity device used by reality shows like Big Brother or Survivor.

voodoo shark (noun): a mythical monster shark based on pseudoscience popularized by Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” in which legitimate scientists are duped into making statements that are highly edited and taken out of context.

“Throughout the interview I was fed certain words to rephrase my sentences in ways that the producer thought would spark more interest. Some words or phrases they asked me to say were beyond anything I would say on my own and I refused. However, they were clever in their questioning by getting me to respond to a vague question with a response that could be used as an answer to a completely different question.” (Jonathan Davis).

See also the upcoming movie Science Friction (in production): “jaw-dropping stories of misrepresentation.”

tarrifism (noun): tarrif-based terrorism. A bully who wages economic war by means of threatened tarrifs would be a ‘tarrifist’ (guaranteed brand new!)*

conlang (portmanteu noun): a construction language or invented language (like Klingon, Avatar’s Na’vi, etc.). Conlanging is the creation of such a language.cafeteria opinion (noun): an uninvited opinion voiced to friends or, often a captive group, with no particular evidence (guaranteed brand new!)*

butt hurt (student slang): Getting your feelings hurt, usually from some petty remark. “Tough love teaches you to be less butt hurt to criticism.”

tree(s) (noun, student slang): stoner talk for marijuana. “Let’s smoke some tree.” “Who you think taught you to smoke trees” (Dr. Dre, 2003)

adulted (verb) apparently related to “raised” as in “I was raised in California, adulted in Arizona” (from a Bumble dating ad). Please make this usage go away.

And now, from the prison scene, compiled variously from a 2014 prison memoir I edited called Rescued, Not Arrested and Orange Is the New Black. (I recently read the book.) Hope you don’t need these:

irons (noun) guns (aka, ‘iron’)

banger (noun) gangbanger

peels(noun) prison garb

torpedo (noun): the shot caller’s faithful enforcer “They called them torpedoes. They were usually culled from the young herd, kids scared to death, the system moving them out of the sandbox in juvie and onto the big boy playground. They’d do anything to feel safe.”

Big Stripes (noun) higher-echelon prisoners

jacket (noun) legal papers, prison record, details of offense

baño (noun) bathroom, john

race leader (noun) yard leader, building leader, complex leader…that is, the hierarchy

mule (noun) A person who smuggles drugs into the institution.


* coined by me


more Klingon for the buck:

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One comment on “More quirky words you may not need

  1. Susan Vogt says:

    I like “tarrifism” and “cafeteria opinion” because they are both in red, are both “brand new” and totally timely to today’s culture.

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