Word Buzz Wednesday: ajockalypse; rui-katsu; sumptuary law

SAKURAKO - Do not cry!

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: don’t be ajerkalypse; do cry out loud; and what not to wear.


“The Conservatives have been accused by a heckler of stirring up racism after claiming a Labour/SNP deal would result in chaos and an ‘ajockalypse’.”

Conservatives accused of racism in ‘ajockalypse’ row,” The Courier, May 5, 2015

Ajockalypse comes from a remark from London mayor Boris Johnson, who  branded “a Labour government supported by the SNP” — or the Scottish National Party — “as ‘Ajockalypse Now’.” The word ajockalypse is a blend a apocalypse and jock, what some might consider a derogatory term for a Scottish person.

golden loaf

“The disappearance of the golden loaf has made it a symbol for something else: Ukraine’s inability to clear up the corrupt and dysfunctional state that Mr. Yanukovych left behind and reclaim the enormous sums that he and his associates allegedly stole.”

James Marson and Nick Shchetko, “Ukrainians Try to Solve the Mystery of the Golden Loaf,” The Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2015

The golden loaf refers to a gaudy ornament left behind in the office of Ukrainian ex-president, Viktor Yanukovych. The gilded bread has became a symbol for the excesses of Yanukovych’s regime, much like the vast shoe collection of Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos.


“He also worked with mo-cap master Andy Serkis — whose portrayals of Gollum and the Planet of the Apes simian Caesar were so revelatory that they sparked Oscars talk — to perfect his technique.”

Brian Hiatt, “The Hulk: The Last Angry Man,” Rolling Stone, May 4, 2015

Mo-cap is short for motion capture, the process of using sensors to record the movement of objects or people. Mo-cap is used in filmmaking — Andy Serkis’s portrayal of Gollum in Lord of the Rings is a prime example — as well as sports and robotics.


Rui-katsu seems to be popular not because Japanese people are big criers, but precisely because they aren’t.”

Patrick St. Michel, “Crying It Out in Japan,” The Atlantic, May 2015

Rui-katsu translates from Japanese as “tear-seeking,” says The Atlantic. Since 2013, communal rui-katsu events have been held in Japan, in which sad commercials, movie clips, and the like are played for audiences who weep as a form of stress relief.

But if you prefer to cry alone, a Tokyo hotel is offering women “crying rooms,” complete with a selection of sad movies like Forrest Gump (although we’d also recommend The Color Purple, Steel Magnolias, the first ten minutes of Up), sad manga, and, of course, plenty of eye makeup remover.

sumptuary law

“Perhaps the greatest distinction conferred by a person’s dress was social status, as reflected in sumptuary laws stating that only certain people could wear velvet, and that the lower classes were confined to drab wool or linen.”

Marc Bain, “Sex and gender aren’t perfectly binary. Why should clothes be?” Quartz, April 26, 2015

During the Elizabethan era in England, sumptuary laws dictated what you could and couldn’t wear. (Sumptuary means “regulating personal behavior on moral or religious grounds.”) For instance, only the King, the King’s relatives, and dukes could wear purple. Violators of such laws could be punished with “fines, the loss of property, title and even life.”

[Photo via Flickr: “SAKURAKO – Do not cry!” CC BY 2.0 by Miki Yoshihito]

Word Buzz Wednesday: bookface, dadbod, frexting

Bookface - Geek Girl

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: of faces, bods, and friendly texts.


“The best bookfaces are carefully planned and staged. Ray Delara, a library assistant in Burlingame and the photographer behind the triple-bookface post, takes the endeavor seriously.”

Rachel Kramer Bussel, “Oh, Those Clever Librarians and Their #Bookface,” The New York Times, May 1, 2015

Bookface photos involve “strategically lining up your face or another body part alongside a book cover that features a matching body part so that there appears a melding of life and art.” A triple-bookface incorporates three different people posing with three different books in one photo.

Although The New York Times says the bookface hashtag was started by NYPL information architect Morgan Holzer in August 2014, we found many older uses in Flickr.

Other -face blends often used as hashtags include quakeface, duckface, and rageface.


“Fratbod leads to dadbod, I feel. All those brews add up.”

The Cut, “What Is the ‘Dadbod’? What Does It Mean?” New York Magazine, April 30, 2015

Dadbod is, as The Cut says, “a physique characterized by undefined muscles beneath a light layer of flab, usually topped off with a beer belly.” The term was apparently coined by a sophomore at Clemson University in South Carolina, and joins other parent-lingo such as Mom jeans, Dad jeans, and MILF.


“It is the latest in a series of synthetic drugs that include Ecstasy and bath salts, but officials say flakka is even easier to obtain in small quantities through the mail.”

Curt Anderson, “Flakka, Synthetic Drug Behind Increasingly Bizarre Crimes,” AP, April 30, 2015

Flakka is a designer synthetic drug along the lines of Ecstasy and Molly. The word flakka is “a derivative of the Spanish word for a thin, pretty woman,” says AP, and  “is usually sold in a crystal form and is often smoked using electronic cigarettes, which are popular with young people and give off no odor.”


“Elizabeth Schulte, one of Kelly’s frexting friends, is comfortable sending sexy selfies to her girlfriends, but not her fiance. Because with men, the contract is different.”

Alana Levinson, “Girl, Send Me a Frext,” Medium, April 30, 2015

A frext is a sext sent between friends, usually female.

Like lumbersexual, frext is sort of blend of a blend, where the meaning at face value is different than the term’s actual meaning. In other words, lumbersexual should mean someone who’s sexually attracted to lumberjacks (or lumber for that matter), just as heterosexuals are attracted to those of the opposite sex (hetero-). Instead lumbersexual plays off metrosexual, and refers to a man who’s stylish in a beardy, plaidy way.

Frext at face value should mean a text from a friend or a friendly text, blending friend and text. Instead it blends friend and sext, which is itself a blend of sex and text.


“The title of that critical analyst note was a word that expressed infinite disappointment: ‘Ungood.’”

Seth Fiegerman, “‘Ungood': Analysts show infinite disappointment with lame Twitter revenue,” Mashable, April 29, 2015

Ungood, which means, rather obviously, “not good” or “bad,” has been around since the second century, says the Oxford English Dictionary. It may have regained popularity in the 1940s with George Orwell’s 1984, in which ungood is an example of euphemistic Newspeak.

[Photo via Flickr: “Bookface – Geek Girl,” CC BY 2.0 by Harry (Howard) Potts]

Adopt a Mother’s Day Word


Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to honor Mom than by adopting a word in her name? And to further the maternal celebration, from today through Sunday, May 10, we’re letting you name the price for any unadopted, mother-esque word.

You might already be familiar with our Adopt the Word program, in which for just $50 you can “own” a word for a year. Plus your name and Twitter handle will appear on that word page, and you’ll get a downloadable certificate, suitable for framing (and giving).

Over 200 words so far have found loving homes, but that still leaves lots of “orphan” words. Each day we feature one special orphan, which, instead of the usual $50, you can pay any price for. Take a look at all the orphan words still in need of adopters.

Now what about those mother words? There’s mother of course, which we can hardly believe is still motherless, and other mother monikers like ma, mama, and mommy; mum and mummy, if you’re British; mudder, if you’re from Brooklyn; and the American-as-apple-pie mom.

Or you may want to honor the mom-like figure in your life, such as your stepmother; mother-in-law (once known as good-mother); your aunt, auntie, tia, and tante; or your grandmother, grandma, gram, granny, grandam, nana, or oma. You might also want to give a shout-out to all the nannies, amahs, au pairs, governesses, and other professional caretakers out there.

Symbolic mothers deserve love too, like Mother Earth, the motherland, and the mothership. Or you might prefer mom-in-charge terms like matriarchy, a community governed by women; matrilineage, line of descent through the mother’s side; materfamilias, a woman who’s head of a household; and mother-right, “alleged supremacy of the mother in the primitive family and clan.”

Another word for babytalk? That’s motherese. Innate intelligence or common sense? Mother wit of course. A mother’s love? Well, mother-love. Or perhaps you’d like to give some lovely mother-of-pearl, mother-of-emerald, or mother of amethyst.

For even more orphan mother words to adopt, check out these mummy dearest words, this mother of a list, and these motherhoodish neologisms.

Happy Mother’s Day words and happy adopting!

[Photo via Flickr: “Mum,” CC BY 2.0 by Jonathan Rolande/HouseBuyFast.co.uk]

Word Buzz Wednesday: mobilegeddon; Nipyata; Poptarko

Viva Piñata

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: the end of the mobile search world as we know it; it’s raining nipperkins; and (don’t) Poptarko us out to the ballgame.

Also, be sure to check out the updated Poptarko entry for additional discussion on not-so-great portmanteaus and trademarked names.


“The curious form of Chilesaurus is an extreme example of mosaic convergent evolution, where different parts of an animal adapt to the environment along the same path taken by other creatures.”

Iam Sample, “‘Bizarre’ Jurassic dinosaur discovered in remarkable new find,” The Guardian, April 27, 2015

The Chilesaurus is a dinosaur of the Jurassic period considered “bizarre” because of its “curious mixture of features from different prehistoric animals,” says The Guardian.

The remains were first discovered in 2004 by a Chilean couple fossil hunting in the Andes. Their son, Diego, found a fossilized bone “that turned out to belong to the new species.”

The dinosaur’s full name is Chilesaurus diegosuarezi, named for where it was found and who found it, 7-year old Diego.


“Some people are calling it Mobilegeddon. That’s a bit of a stretch. But for the Google search engine—something that’s such big part of our daily lives—it’s likely the biggest change of the past three years.”

Cade Metz, “Google’s Search Update Will Remake the Web in Its Own Image,” WIRED, April 21, 2015

Mobilegeddon, a blend of mobile and armageddon, refers to Google’s recent updates to its search algorithms, which will make a site’s “mobile-friendliness” a determining factor in how prominently, if at all, it’ll appear in mobile search results. In other words, if a site isn’t mobile ready, there’s a chance people won’t be able to find it via their phones.

Check out more armageddon blends and these apocalypse words.


“And then there will be a chapter for the Nipyata, a novelty party item that stuffs cardboard donkey piñatas with tiny bottles of booze instead of candy. Blindfolded, dizzy drunks swinging a beating stick in a crowd of people…what could go wrong?”

Neil Casey, “Meet The Nipyata: A Piñata Filled With Bottles Of Booze,” Gothamist, April 26, 2015

The Nipyata combines a piñata and booze, or nip, figuratively and literally. A nip is a small amount of liquor, like the little (hopefully shatterproof) bottles of Jesus juice that rain down when the Nipyata is busted open.

The word nip is short for nipperkin, a “quantity of liquor of a half pint or less.” Nipperkin is of Dutch or Low German origin. Piñata in Spanish literally means jug or pot.


“The Bombers, a summer collegiate league baseball team, unveiled their new concession concoction for 2015 – dubbed the ‘Poptarko’.”

Bill Broderick, “New food item for Bombers is the Poptarko,” Battle Creek Enquirer, April 24, 2015

Poptarko, while an excellent name, is a horrific-sounding Pop-Tart-taco combination. Specifically, it’s a “double-decker taco” with a soft shell wrapped around a hard shell, and inside the shell, pulled pork and a brown sugar and cinnamon Pop-Tart. Of course a taco wouldn’t be complete without toppings, in this case, crumbled bacon, cheese, and more pieces of Pop-Tarts.

UPDATE: Editor Dawn McIlvain Stahl, aka PurplePenning, made a really good point: why is it Poptarko with a “k” and not Poptarco or Poptartco?

Professional name developer Nancy Friedman suggests that the “co” from taco might be misinterpreted as “company” and that the “k” might be reminiscent of pork. In addition, she says, “The big problem here could be unauthorized use of POP-TART, a registered TM of Kellogg.”


“It’s a visual effect you can chalk up to the SnorriCam, a special device that mounts the camera directly on the actor’s body.”

Jacob T. Swinney, “A Video History of the SnorriCam, the Ultimate Cinematic Shorthand for Disorientation,” Slate, April 21, 2015

The SnorriCam creates a disorienting effect in film by making it seem as though everything except the actor is moving — in other words, the actor seems to hold perfectly still while the world whirls dizzyingly around him.

Icelandic filmmakers Einar Snorri and Eidur Snorri developed the technique using a special rig that attaches to the body “so one can walk or run with the camera locked on to oneself, keeping the face as an example steady in the frame and focus.”

Snorri and Snorri, by the way, aren’t related, but work together under the name Snorri Bros, to make things extra confusing.

[Photo via Flickr: “Viva Piñata,” CC BY 2.0 by peasap]

Word Buzz Wednesday: Hodor-ing, haterbragging, hater-cricketing

Hodor sobre esse desenho: "Hodor?"

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: Hodor-ing, haterbragging, and hater-cricketing.


“Tax advisers whose job it is to help clients steer through some of this muddle have already coined a term to sum up the confusion: ‘avoision’.”

Richard Dyson, “There’s nothing wrong with tax avoidance: we’re all forced to do it,” The Telegraph, April 18, 2015

Tax avoision is the “non-payment of tax that cannot clearly be seen as either tax avoidance, which is legal, or tax evasion, which is illegal.”

Some examples of tax avoidance from The Telegraph, a British publication, include saving in “Isas and pensions,” investing in “tax-free National Savings accounts,” and carefully recalling “the legitimate expenses with which to reduce taxable profits.” Tax evasion, says The Telegraph, is the deliberate concealment or understatement of income or assets.

Avoision is somewhere between “aggressive avoidance” and full-blown evasion. The word is a blend of avoidance and evasion.

chitlin’ circuit

“Stand-up comedy offered a way out of this dead end, even at the low pay he initially earned since he was relegated to the ‘chitlin’ circuit’ reserved for black comedians.”

Jeet Heer, “Don’t Forget What Richard Pryor Taught Us: Offensive Comedy Can Be Liberating,” New Republic, April 13, 2015

The chitlin’ circuit refers to “a circuit of nightclubs and theaters that feature African-American performers and cater especially to African-American audiences.”

According to NPR, “the entertainers called it the Chitlin’ Circuit because club owners sold chitlins and other soul food dishes out of their kitchens.” The name “may also have been a play on the Borscht Belt, a moniker given to the Catskills Mountain region in upstate New York where many Jewish families vacationed during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.”

Chitlins are the boiled and fried small intestines of pigs. The word is a variant on chitterlings, which may come from the Old English cieter, “intestines.”

expressive aphasia

“Whether he intended it or not, Martin created a character who is a textbook example of someone with a neurological condition called expressive aphasia.”

Jordan Gaines Lewis, “Neuroscience explains why Hodor in Game of Thrones only says ‘Hodor,’” Quartz, April 13, 2015

Aphasia is “partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, resulting from damage to the brain caused by injury or disease.” In expressive aphasia, speech or writing specifically is severely impaired.

The word aphasia comes from the Greek aphatos, “speechless.”


“The haterbrag embodies a couple of typical complaints that people like Franzen lodge against social media culture: It’s a narcissistic overshare.”

Amanda Hess, “My Haters, Myself,” Slate, April 13, 2015

The haterbrag, says Slate, is kind like the “humblebrag’s evil (but funnier) stepsister.” Essentially, haterbragging is bragging about how much hate one gets, especially on social media. An example is celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves.


“While not an enthusiast of the sport by any means, Sledge inadvertently became forever associated with the game of cricket, with the term ‘sledging’ arguably derived from his name.”

Percy Sledge: Soul singer’s link to cricket’s sledging,” Australian Broadcasting Corporation, April 15, 2015

Sledging refers to, in cricket, “the practice of a fielder making insulting or comical references to an opposition batsman with the aim of distracting him.”

So what does a British sports term have to do with an African American R&B singer? One theory is that it originated in the mid-1960s from Australian cricketer Grahame Corling, who teased another player about his wife having an affair by singing the Sledge tune, “When a Man Loves a Woman.”

Another theory says sledging has nothing to do with Percy Sledge: in the mid-1960s, a player “reacted to an incident ‘like a sledgehammer’, with all on-field insults and obscenities at opponents henceforth known as ‘sledging’.”

[Photo via Flickr: “Hodor sobre esse desenho: “Hodor?'” CC BY 2.0 by Bruna Schenkel]

Word Buzz Wednesday: Bone Wars; Churchillian Drift; Easterlin paradox


Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: a dinosaur dust-up; who said what; and money doesn’t always buy happiness.

Bone Wars

“The name Brontosaurus goes back to the so-called Bone Wars of the late 1800s, when rival fossil hunters Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope raced new dinosaur names into the scientific literature.”

Paul Rincon, “Brontosaurus dino name is revived,” BBC, April 7, 2015

The Bone Wars were also known as the Great Dinosaur Rush. Paleontologists Marsh and Cope were fiercely competitive, “resorting to bribery, theft, and destruction of bones,” as well as attacking each other in scientific publications.

Churchillian Drift

“But the subsequent misattribution is a textbook example of a widespread phenomenon in the world of quotations: Churchillian Drift.”

Erin McKean, “The Wise Words of Maya Angelou. Or Someone, Anyway,” The New York Times, April 9, 2015

Churchillian Drift, says McKean, “is the process by which any particularly apt quotation is mistakenly attributed to a more famous person in the same field.”

In the case of Maya Angelou, a quote from lesser known author Joan Walsh Anglund was attributed to Angelou and inscribed on a postage stamp honoring the world-famous poet.

Easterlin paradox

“Gilovich’s findings are the synthesis of psychological studies conducted by him and others into the Easterlin paradox, which found that money buys happiness, but only up to a point.”

Jay Cassano, “The Science Of Why You Should Spend Your Money On Experiences, Not Things,” Fast Company, March 30, 2015

The Easterlin paradox says that while high income does correlate with happiness, it’s a short-term high: in the long run, making a lot of money doesn’t make you happier. The concept is named for economist Richard Easterlin.

hot take

“The problem with the Dove post was not its subject or its slant, he suggested in a tweet Thursday evening, but that it was a ‘hot take.’”

Julia Turner, “In Defense of the Take,” Slate, April 10, 2015

The term hot take, says Turner, has become a journalistic putdown. Takes refer to “quick responses” and “often glib opinions” online writers are forced to produce about “any event that occurs” in order to drive traffic and revenue.

The hot take originates from sports media, “usually connoting a blowhard ranting about some personnel decision or play call gone wrong.” Urban Dictionary defines hot take as “simplistic moralizing rather than actual thought,” as opposed to a strong take.

wha gwan

“Before speaking to a crowd of people, the president did his best ‘Wha Gwan’, which resulted in all kinds of jump and wave from yardies everywhere.”

Shenequa Golding, “Big Tings A Gwan: Barack Obama Visits Jamaica And Does Spot On Patois Impersonation,” VIBE, April 9, 2015

Wha gwan is Jamaican patois for “What’s going on?” or “What’s up?” Yardie is slang for someone from Jamaica. The word comes from “government yards,” another name for Jamaican social housing projects.

[Photo via Flickr: “Dinosaur,” CC BY 2.0 by Kevin Dooley]

5 Cherry Blossom Terms, Translated


If you’re in the D.C. area you’re in luck: it’s “peak bloom” week for cherry blossoms.

If you don’t have the chance to enjoy the pink pulchritude in our nation’s capital or elsewhere, please enjoy the stories behind these five Japanese cherry blossom terms.


“The Japanese tradition of ‘hanami’ – or the cherry blossom viewing picnic – has survived relatively unchanged since about the eighth century.”

David Sim, “Japan: Cherry blossom viewing ‘hanami’ parties celebrate ancient tradition using selfie sticks,” International Business Times, March 30, 2015

Hanami, which translates from Japanese as “flower viewing,” is the Japanese custom of “enjoying the transient beauty of flowers,” especially cherry blossoms.

The custom started in the eighth century during the Nara Period when it was plum blossoms that got all the attention. However, by the late 700s, cherry blossoms had stolen the show.

Nowadays, hanami parties are immensely popular all over Japan, featuring live music and “lavish picnics” that include onigiri; hanami bentos, bento boxes with spring-like hues of pink, red, and orange; and hanami sake.

Other Japanese nature-viewing words include momojigari, the “hunting” of autumn leaves, and tsukimi, moon viewing.

hana yori dango

“The phrase ‘hana yori dango’ literally means ‘dumplings over flowers’ and is usually used in a teasing way to refer to someone who prefers food (something of substance) over something beautiful or romantic.”

Kay, “Capybara enjoying a meal at Ueno Zoo treats us to the herbivore’s version of ‘Hana Yori Dango,” RocketNews24, April 1, 2014

Hana yori dango, or “dumplings over flowers,” is a saying that has its origins in hanami, says Japan Talk, and means that “people are often more interested in the food and drink at hanami parties than the flowers themselves.”

Hana Yori Dango is also the name of a popular manga series, Boys Over Flowers, where dango, which means sweet rice dumplings, is a pun for “boys,” according to NPR.


“We thus see that the cherry blossom, called sakura by the Japanese, represents the ‘spirit of Japan.’”

C.A. Howes, “Some Stamp Designs,” American Journal of Philately, 1905

Sakura refers to the either the cherry blossom or the cherry tree in Japanese. The sakura zensen, or cherry blossom front, is the “advance of cherry blossoms across Japan.”

Another common cherry blossom saying is, “Dead bodies are buried under the sakura!” This seemingly creepy pronouncement is the first line of “Under the Cherry Trees,” a 1928 short story by Japanese writer, Motojiro Kajii. The quote refers to, not literal corpses under cherry trees, but a “sense of disbelief at the beauty of sakura blossoms and suggests that history somehow adds to this beauty.”


“Not inappropriate for, as I have said, the plum blossoms appear very early and the Japanese go umemi, or plum blossom viewing, with sprigs of the flower stuck in their fur caps.”

Edith Wilds, “Great Art in Little Ceremonies of Japan,” The Art World and Arts & World Decoration, Volume 9, May 1918

Umemi is the viewing plum blossoms, rather than cherry (ume is the Japanese word for “plum”), and usually occurs in the late winter or early spring, “just before the more famous ‘sakura’ cherry blossoms,” says Japan Info Swap.

Umeshu is a Japanese liqueur made from plums steeped in sugar and sake.


“So great is the attraction of cherry blossoms seen by the light of the pale moon, that they have even been given the special name of Yozakura or night cherry flowers.”

Florence Du Cane, The Flowers and Gardens of Japan, 1908

Yozakura translates from Japanese as “night sakura.” Yozakura Quartet is a Japanese manga about four teenagers who live in a town called Sakurashin, which “is protected by a barrier created by the spiritual sakura known as The Seven Pillars.”

[Photo via Flickr: “Sakura,” CC BY 2.0 by Yoshikazu Takada]