About The Joy of English

whichenglish @ twitter

The idea behind this page is to note new words that I overhear. The words that end up here might not necessarily be "scoops" but I will share them as I come across them. For the very latest overheard English words, follow my twitter feed (http://twitter.com/whichenglish) and blog. New entries will end up here with due course.

Overheard: subsidiarisation

Definition: subsidiarisationthe buzzword being used by the banking industry for what the media and public call "breaking up the banks". It effectively means creating legal firewalls separating investment and "ordinary deposit-taking" arms. [27 Jan 2011]

Overheard: MITSK countries

Definition: MITSK – Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea. The man who coined the BRIC group of countries has now identified the MITSK economic group. [26 Jan 2011]

Overheard: zero-year face

Definition: zero-year face – a look that younger woman seek in looking OLDER than they are, and then maintaining that 'age'. Basically it is an attempt by younger women to look a little bit older to appear more mature, and keeping that 'age' as they get older. [25 Jan 2011]

Overheard: un-dollar

Definition: un-dollarthe nickname for the euro, used because it represents what the dollar is not. As a reserve currency, the dollar and euro are often like Ying-Yang. Each is a safe haven from each other. [20 Jan 2010]

Overheard: the Great Recession

Definition: the Great Recessionthe 2007 to present global recession, a term wider than the Credit Crunch. The I only add this because I have seen it used many times in the US media but am yet to see it being used in the UK (this could be deliberate avoidance because a general election is due in the spring of 2010). [20 Jan 2010].

Overheard: voluntourism

Definition: voluntourismthe taking of a long holiday/vacation with the express intention of either working overseas for a charity or travelling and staying at "farmstay-type" holidays where you work for food and lodging, often on ecological grounds. [20 Jan 2010].

Overheard: clickskrieg

Definition: clickskriega specific for of "cyber warfare" involving crippling a website in a warlike or hostile manner by overloading them with requests. [20 Jan 2010].

Overheard: offline piracy/filesharing

Definition: offline piracy/filesharingthe practice of distributing digital files simply by letting a friend copy directly from your hard-drive, for example with a USB cable direct to their iPod. [20 Jan 2010].

Overheard: downwardly mobile

Definition: downwardly mobilea worker who is moving "down" in their career instead of up. This is, unfortunately, a reality for increasing numbers during the recession. [20 Jan 2010].

Overheard: permatemp

Definition: permatempa type of worker who is has no choice but to work on a "temporary" basis on a long-term basis. [20 Jan 2010].

Overheard: Omega block

Definition: Omega blockan unusual weather pattern affecting high- and low-pressure systems. Add this to El Niño and El Niña as nicknames given to observed disruptive climate patterns. [20 Jan 2010].

Overheard: bouncbackability

Definition: bouncbackabilitythe ability of something to bouncback from a setback. This is different from a comeback in that it can be used to describe, say, the economy's recovery. [20 Jan 2010].

Overheard: underemployment rate

Definition: underemployment rateThe number of people who have given up seeking work or part-time workers who would prefer to work full time but can't (thereby not counted in the unemployment/jobseekers' rate). [10 Jan 2010].

Overheard: biophysical feedback

Definition: biophysical feedbackThe counter reaction by the planet resulting from changing weather and climate patterns. Look out for this one in the future, not just on the page and screen. This is what essentially describes "phase II", after climate change. [10 Jan 2010].

Overheard: iHaves and iHave-nots

Definition: iHaves and iHave-notsYou are either in the iphone club or your aren't, but there are many advantages of being an iHave, which has led to talk of others being left behind in a similar manner to the "digital divide". [10 Jan 2010].

Overheard: slate computer

Definition: slate computerThe new term for what has long been called a tablet computer. [10 Jan 2010].

Overheard: superphone

Definition: superphoneFirst it was the "smart phone". Now, it the next generation phones are being labelled "superphones". [10 Jan 2010].

Overheard: sub-celebrity

Definition: sub-celebritySomeone who becomes famous because they revealed secrets about a celebrity, or because they had a releationship with one. This, of course, brings to mind the many people making a name for themselves off the back of the news that Tiger Woods has been unfaithful to his wife. [03 Jan 2010].

Overheard: meat reducer

Definition: meat reducerSomeone who deliberately limits their weekly intake of meat and who chooses products based on their provenance and eco-friendly status. This is a little bit like flexitarian, someone who chooses to not eat certain foods (but not necessarily all meat) because of their uneco-friendly provenance. [01 Jan 2010].

Overheard: plastax

Definition: plastaxA tax levied specifically on plastic carrier bags used in shopping. The idea being that it will encourage people to use fewer bags because they come at a cost. [01 Jan 2010].

Overheard: Boomerang generation

Definition: Boomerang generationThe generation of "young" people who are forced to move back in or live with their parents because of unemployment or because of low wages and unaffordable housing, especially after having already once left the nest. Many have always mocked Spaniards and Italians for how long their offspring continue to live with their parents as adults. What was often overlooked was that it was usually not out of choice but because of economic necessity. This phenomenon is now spreading to other Western countries.

In Italy, Greece, Spain and France they have become known as Generation 1000, because €1000 is the average wage of the younger generations there who cannot afford to move out even though they have jobs. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: biological half-life

Definition: biological half-lifeThe time that it takes radionuclides to pass through animals; also a reference to the time that it takes before the the animal is deemed safe enough for its meat to be sold. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: ungoverned space

Definition: ungoverned spaceThe new "no-man's land", regions on Earth that are not ruled by any state or government, Somalia being the prime example. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: head cam / head camera

Definition: head cam or head camera Mobile camera attached to the head that can be while on duty. Who will be the first person in the world to take this piece of newly issued piece of police equipment and streamcast their daily lives on the internet in real time? I can see the "head cam" becoming like web cam, linked through your mobile phone streaming your whereabouts online. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: nontroversy

Definition: nontroversyFalse, baseless or nonexistant controversy. (Remember that "controversy" does not imply something bad, the word merely means disagreement or causing multiple views.) Source: Wordspy.com. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: YIMBY

Definition: YIMBYThe antonym of NIMBY. YIMBY stands for Yes In My Back Yard. Source: Buzzwords. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: maturialism

Definition: maturialism – this is "grey pound/gray dollar", retirees and pensioners and silver surfers rebranded as a market segment of older consumers who don't want to be treated as being helpless and easily shocked. The idea here is that there exists a large group of older people who don't mind risque advertising and don't have to be treated with kid gloves – infact they welcome and respond to the opposite. No longer do we need to worry about Grandma being shocked by something in an advertisment. Source: trendwatching.com. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: profile myning

Definition: profile myning – the commoditisation of perosnal of profiles by its owners, rather than by web hosts, in a bid to sell themselves and their connections to outside parties. The my in myning reflects ownership – my profile. Expect to see my uses of my in words to come. Source: trendwatching.com. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: fluxury goods

Definition fluxury goods – regionally specific or consumer-segmented luxury goods, presumably an amalgam of flex and luxury. The supposed trend of the future is a segmentation of the luxury-goods market, which means that consumers will become pickier when it comes to deciding for themselves what constitutes luxury – be it linked to eco-friendliness, more personalisation or tailoring goods to individuals' needs rather than making a range of goods and letting the people "come to you". Source: trendwatching.com.

This is the second time I have seen a blending of the word flex with other words, i.e. flextarian. You canno doubt expect to see more in the years to come. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: urbany

Definition: urbany – hyper urbanisation, "extreme" urbanisation or urbanisation "on steroids". There is expected to be more growth in global urbanisation in the decades to come, with cities forming "state-like" regions, a lot like the days of old when there used to be walled cities. Source: trendwatching.com. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: hyperlocalisation / hyperlocalization

Definition: urbanisation – This word describes a predicted return to localised political thinking and crowd-sourced co-operation within communities, especially using social-networking tools like Facebook et al. . Source: BBC Radio 5/The Economist. (513 google hits 01 Jan 2010) [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: debtacide

Definition: debtacide – The word debtacide is similar to its cousin econocide with the subtle distinction that suicide brought on by debt rather than, say, having lost a fortune. Source: BBC Radio 5. [01 Jan 2010]

Overheard: financial commitments

Definition: financial commitments – Like the duo of words gambling / gaming, financial commitments is a new politically correct euphamism for debt. The average person might assume that financial commitments relates to ongoing costs, such as rent, fuel, food, school fees etc. Instead, it is now being used as a nicer term for having debts. Source: BBC Radio 4. [01 Jan 2010]


New English words 2009

Overheard: jeggings

Definition: jeggings – leggings made from stretch denim.

Overheard: legal highs

Definition: legal highs –The UK government recently introduced a change in the law that banned certain types of synthetic drugs that previuosly fell outside the law, including GBL, BZP and "spice". Any future drug that falls outside legislation is a "legal high".

Overheard: mild camping

Definition: mild camping – Unlike normal camping, mild camping involves staying in böds, igloos, tipis, yurts, various types of pods, huts and even treehouses.

Overheard: Brokenhagen

Definition: Brokenhagen – Although not a "proper" word, the failure to reach a climate agreement at Copenhagen means that some have stopped referring to "Copenhagen" and use "Brokenhagen" instead. It may be that we will no speak of Kyoto and Brokenhagen.

Overheard: dark pool trading

Definition: dark pool trading – trading that occurs "off market", unadvertised to not draw attention to large block orders. The same is true of dark liquidity.

Overheard: jump the shark

Definition: jump the shark – phrase: the point when a popular television series reaches it zenith and when it features something silly that causes ridicule and the show begins to lose viewers. Named after the episode of Happy Days when its main character jumps over a shark. Source: BBC Radio 4.

Overheard: gulfo

Definition: gulfo – proposed pan-Arab currency set to enter first its first phase in 2010. It supposedly inspired by the success of the euro and dissatisfaction with the falling strength of the dollar. Spell it with a small g (like euro, dollar, pound, yuan etc.), not "Gulfo".

Overheard: cyberlocker

Definition: cyberlocker – secure online digital storage facility, often (but not exclusively) used for illegal and pirated files e.g. music.

Overheard: camel hump

Definition: camel hump – typographical name for using random uppercase letters within words or letter strings, eg. iPod, InDesign, arXiv, bigWord. A lot of designers are increasingly putting random letters into logotypes and brand names.These capital letters are now referred to as camel humps, and the technique is called camel humping. A cAmel hUmp.

Overheard: warmist

Definition: warmist – to take the position that climate change is man-made. Source: ABC radio, Australia.

Overheard: Peak Atmosphere

Definition: Peak Atmosphere – the predicted or estimated pointed where atmospheric-carbon pollution reaches critical mass. If you are familiar with Peak Oil and Peak Credit, then this new term takes on the same principle of denoting a point where atmospheric pollution reaches a) a point of no return and b) a tipping point (using Gladwell's famous term) for environmental and societal knock-on effects.

Overheard: glunge

Definition: glunge – glamourous grunge. Those of you familiar with the grunge music of the 1990s will know that it came and went after only a few years. Now, in 2009 and 2010, the music is apparently being revived with more attractive packaging and being called glunge. This is what glam rock was to bread-and-butter rock of the days of old and is now coming to a music scene near you. This one, however, may not last.

Overheard: skewflation

Definition: skewflation – falling asset prices in combination with rising cost-of-living prices. To date only 45 results on google (11 Dec 09). The earliest reference I can find is from 3 September 2009 at http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/article/316690/%22The-Worst-of-All-Worlds%22-Don%27t-Believe-the-Recovery-Hype-Ortel-Says?. (45 google hits December 2009)