Zoo Negara

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: hooray for Cholliwood, an unexpected distress call, and checkered chihuahuas.


“So, yes, ‘Cholliwood,’ as it’s been dubbed (‘Chollima’ is the name of the flying horse you see everywhere in North Korea), is not quite Cinecittà.”

Pico Iyer, “A Rare Glimpse Inside North Korea’s Pyongyang International Film Festival,” Vanity Fair, March 2015

Cholliwood refers to North Korea’s film industry, which is mostly, if not all, propaganda.

The flying horse Chollima originates from Chinese classic works and translates as “thousand-mile horse.” It’s said the horse is “too swift and elegant to be mounted” by humans. The North Korean football team is known as Chollima, as well as their economic movement which is similar to China’s Great Leap Forward.

Other Hollywood blends include Bollywood, the film industry of Bombay, now Mumbai; Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s amusement park; Wellywood which refers to Wellington, New Zealand, the home of Peter “Lord of the Rings” Jackson’s production company; and many more.

kiss squeak

“Another interesting aspect of this research is that it proves kisses aren’t all about romance and sweetness in the primate world. The calls that de Boers and his colleagues studied are known as ‘kiss squeaks.’”

Jennifer Viegas, “Orangutans Use Hands to Help Create Fake Voices,” Discovery News, March 18, 2015

The kiss squeak is a distress call the orangutan makes when humans or dangerous animals come near, says Discovery News.

Kiwi collier

“For example, the Chihuahua-Australian shepherd-Jack Russell terrier-collie became a ‘Kiwi collier’; a Yorkshire terrier and beagle mix became a ‘Yorkle’; and a golden retriever-miniature pinscher-Chihuahua was proclaimed a ‘golden Chinscher.’”

Sue Manning, “DNA tests help California shelter speed up dog adoptions,” AP, March 18, 2015

The Kiwi collier, while an adorable name and, we’re sure, an adorable pup, is a bit of a misnomer: Kiwi is the nickname for someone from New Zealand, not Australia.

Check out more hybrid dog names.

range anxiety

“Even with a string of Superchargers along my route, I felt the creep of range anxiety (mostly expressed as sweatiness), because the projected range suggested by the car didn’t always hold up.”

Alex Davies, “Tesla’s Plan to Kill Range Anxiety with a Software Update,” Wired, March 19, 2015

Range anxiety is the fear that a vehicle’s range, or “maximum distance that can be covered…with a specified payload before its fuel supply is exhausted,” is not enough to reach its destination. Especially said of electric cars since car battery chargers are not readily available everywhere.


“The boom in human population and consumption of everything from copper to corn after 1950 or so. . .roughly coincides with this nuclear marker as does the advent of plastics and other remnants of industrial society, dubbed technofossils by Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester.”

David Biello, “Mass Deaths in America Start New CO2 Epoch,” Scientific American, March 11, 2015

Technofossils are “the fossil traces of technologies used to perform tasks,” according to The Economist. For example, technofossils “from about two million years ago” left behind by pre-human primates include “simple wood or stone ‘tools’ to pound, dig or cut.”

[Photo via Flickr: “Zoo Negara,” CC BY 2.0 by Phalinn Ooi]


Viking warriors ready for the fight

Welcome to our latest installment of Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up five buzzworthy words. This week: red hot chile peppers; smartwatches in the night, exchanging glances; them’s fightin’ genes.


“Capsaicin, unlike other compounds found in food, is a chemesthetic (a chemical that activates receptors associated with pain and touch) so it produces a burning sensation, rather than a taste or smell.”

Leslie Stephens, “All About Chiles,” Food52, February 25, 2015

Chemesthetics don’t just result in pain but also, for example, the cooling feeling of minty mouthwash and the stinging of carbonated drinks.


“Jackie Chan might still be popular in China, but nowadays the pro-Beijing actor is as well-known as fodder for jokes as he is for his gritty martial arts and slapstick humor on screen. His latest contribution to the country’s mass culture and entertainment: ‘duang.’”

Didi Tang, “‘Duang!’ Chinese poke fun at Jackie Chan with nonsense word,” AP, March 5, 2015

The Chinese word duang, says AP, means something like “ta-da!” or else “special effects.” In a 2004 shampoo commercial, Chan claimed no ‘duang’ was used “to make his hair look blacker, shinier and softer,” which authorities later deemed false advertising.

Duang is an example of onomatopoeia.


“Apple has not yet trademarked the term, but you will hear a lot about ‘glances’ and ‘glanceable content’ in the coming days as Applespeak begins its migration into the vernacular.”

Stephen Hutcheon, “Apple Watch launch 2015: Attention deficit is coming on an industrial scale,” The Sydney Morning Herald, March 11, 2015

Apple defines a glance as a “a browsable collection of timely and contextually relevant moments from the wearer’s favorite apps,” says The Sydney Morning Herald. In other words, a glance is glancing at your watch to check the weather or a stock price.

There will be two types of glances, the Long Look, which you can scroll, and the Short Look, which you can’t.

The word glance comes from the Old French glacier, “to slip, make slippery.”

Munchausen by proxy by Internet

“Some argue that Spears was exhibiting an even newer form of Munchausen than had previously been identified: ‘Munchausen by proxy by Internet.’”

Amanda Hess, “Sick of the Internet,” Slate, March 9, 2015

Münchausen syndrome is a psychiatric disorder in which the afflicted pretend to be ill to gain attention and sympathy. In Münchausen syndrome by proxy a parent or other adult caregiver exaggerates or induces illness in a child to gain attention.

In 2000 psychiatrist Marc Feldman coined Munchausen by Internet, a form of Munchausen syndrome in which people post about feigned illnesses online. Now, in light of a woman who’s accused of slowly poisoning her child with salt and documenting his “illness” on Twitter, some are suggesting yet another variation: Munchausen by proxy by Internet.

The disorder and its variations are named after Baron Münchhausen, a fictional character in German literature loosely based on real-life baron, Hieronymus Karl Friedrich, Freiherr von Münchhausen, who had a habit of telling tall tales.

warrior gene

“About 30% of men have this so-called warrior gene, but whether the gene is triggered or not depends crucially on what happens to you in childhood.”

Are murderers born or made?” BBC News, March 9, 2015

The warrior gene refers to the absence or a variant of a gene that produces the enzyme, MAOA, “which regulates the levels of neurotransmitters involved in impulse control,” says BBC News.

Those without this gene or with the “low-activity” variant are predisposed to violence, according to a 1993 study of a Dutch family. In the family, all the men had a history of violence and were also all missing this gene.

However, just because you’re missing this gene doesn’t mean you’re necessarily violent. A University of California professor who discovered “a surprisingly large number of murderers in his family tree,” had himself genetically tested and found “he had an awful lot of genes that have been linked to violent psychopathic behaviour,” although he himself hasn’t displayed such tendencies.

He chalks it up to his happy childhood and suggests that “a genetic tendency violence” plus an abusive childhood is the deadly combination.

[Photo via Flickr: “Viking warriors ready for the fight,” CC BY 2.0 by Hans Splinter]


12 Wonderful Words from TED

March 16, 2015

It’s TED time again! You might know the germ of Wordnik started with Erin McKean’s 2007 TED talk, “The joy of lexicography.” In it, Erin discusses a new kind of dictionary, one not bound by paper but as big as technology allows — big enough to hold all the words. And not just “real” words […]

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‘Community’ Soup: 12 Best Words So Far

March 12, 2015

Community is back next week (at least via Yahoo Screen)! And while we’ll miss Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley, we’re glad school is back in session for the rest of the Greendale gang — so glad we’re rounding up our favorite class Community-isms from Word Soups past. accusational opposition disorder Britta: “For our midterm, we […]

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Word Buzz Wednesday: Big Pizza, flying donkeys, Spocking

March 11, 2015

It’s time once again for our weekly buzzworthy word roundup! The latest: an extra large pie; leapfrogging donkeys; and paying homage to Spock. Big Pizza “Big Pizza spent about $1.5 million in the last two election cycles, which is really no surprise. What might surprise you is that pizza is so partisan: 88 percent of […]

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Word Buzz Wednesday: micro-punctuation, Purkinje effect, whale fall

March 4, 2015

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. In this batch: revealing punctuation, the color of that damned dress, and a whale that’s not a fail. black site “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black […]

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Adopt-a-Word Un-Birthday Sale

February 27, 2015

We say it’s our birthday! Well, sort of. You may remember back in February 2012 when Wordnik turned one. But wait a minute, you might be thinking, hasn’t Wordnik been around longer than that? It has. We were incorporated on Leap Day 2008, which means that technically we have a birthday only once every four […]

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