Best of Word Soup 2012: TV Word Love

bob's television dream

bob's television dream, by Robert Couse-Baker

Welcome to the first annual Wordnik Word Soup Awards!

All year we’ve been collecting interesting, hilarious, ridiculous, and sometimes NSFW words from TV, and now it’s time to award the best of the best.

Best Use of a Grammar Term on the Comedy Channel

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, anaphor

“You didn’t build that,” proclaimed President Obama during a campaign speech this July, but that wasn’t all he said. Unfortunately, as Stewart stated, by saying “you didn’t build that,” Obama created confusion by “using the demonstrative singular pronoun, ‘that’ instead of the plural anaphor, ‘those,’ which of course would be referring to the antecedent, ‘roads and bridges’,” all of which promptly gave Stewart a grammar wedgie.

Best Use of a Controversial Word on a Comedy

30 Rock, transvaginal

Some states have tried to make transvaginal ultrasounds required for women having abortions. “You’re being so transvaginal right now,” Liz told Jack regarding his invasiveness about her decision to adopt or remain childless.

Best Made-Up German Word

Perfektenschlage, The Office

Fans of The Office know that Dwight Schrute is of German ancestry, and according to Dunder Mifflin’s top salesman, Perfektenschlage is “when everything in a man’s life comes together perfectly.” The second meaning is “perfect pork anus.”

Runner-up: Bildenkinder, for landlords, the feeling that building residents are like biological children.

Best Use of a French Swear Word

Mad Men, calice

Megan uttered this Québécois French swear word when her surprise birthday party for Don was spoiled. According to Slate, calice “has its origins in Roman Catholic ritual—it’s the communion chalice.”

Best Eponym

Ferris Buellerian, Community

This was a tough decision. There was 30 Rock’s normal-Al, the opposite of Weird Al, and their equally hilarious reverse-Urkel, to de-nerdify a black nerd. In the end we went with Community’s Ferris Buellerian – “Winger’s critics suggest he merely improvised hot-button patriotic dogma in a Ferris Buellerian attempt to delay school work” – a unique usage of the hooky-playing character.

Best Name for a Made-Up Rebel Movement

Sanguinista, True Blood

We found Sanguinista to be a clever and appropriate name for a faction of rebel vampires. The word is a blend of sanguine, “bloodthirsty; bloody,” and Sandinista of the Sandinista National Liberation Front.

Runner-up: Lauffeuer, Grimm. Lauffeuer translates from the German as “wildfire.”

Best Made-Up Psychological Disorder

accusational opposition disorder, Community

Leave it to psych major Britta to come up a pseudo-psych term for disagreeing or arguing with someone. The runner-up is also from Community: hypernarcissosis, excessive narcissism or love and admiration for oneself, which apparently plagues the vain Jeff Winger.

Most Ridiculous Portmanteau

unwindulax, 30 Rock

“We’re just camping out and unwindulaxing,” says one of Jenna’s fans. In October, we noted that the word is a blend of unwind and relax, but where does that ‘u’ come from? Who knows and who cares? Just unwindulax and enjoy the word.

Best Use of Portmanteaus – TIE

The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

The Stewart and Colbert “puninator” was hard at work this year what with generating a proliferation of puns, portmeanteaus, and blends.

There was sanitipsy, a blend of sanitizer and tipsy, based on a report that teens drink hand sanitizer to get drunk; assassitunity, using the assassination of Osama bin Laden as a PR opportunity; gaffestronomist, those who measure political gaffes “using the exact science of gaffestronomy,” according to Stewart; and many more.

Best Show for Eggcorns

Raising Hope

An eggcorn is a malapropism that makes sense to the speaker, and Virginia of Raising Hope is the Queen of the Eggcorn. “I was immediately inquizzical of this mystery,” she has said. What’s the doctor who examines ladyparts? A vaginacologist of course. And that thing that repeats itself by one’s own doing? “A self-refilling prophecy,” says Virginia.

Most Educational Show About Current Events That Wasn’t The Daily Show or The Colbert Report

The Newsroom

Sure, The Newsroom was maddening in a lot of ways (all that yelling, for instance), but we did learn a thing or two. We learned that EKIA stands for “Enemy Killed in Action,” and that RINO isn’t an ungulate but a “Republican in Name Only.” We learned about the Glass-Steagall Act and the story behind the greater fool. Now if only Aaron Sorkin would learn to stop calling women girls.

Best Made-Up Sex Slang

30 Rock

This is the semi-NSFW part. While a nooner for some means sex at lunchtime, for Liz Lemon it means “having pancakes for lunch.” Normalling is a fetish for kinky Jenna and Paul: behaving like a “normal” couple. A sexual walkabout is like a walkabout only while, um, “doing every depraved thing [one] can think of with as many people as [one] can,” according to Jenna.

Bang brothers are men who have slept with the same woman (see also Eskimo brothers). Pokemoning means having a wide variety of lovers, as in the video game in which one must collect “all of the available Pokémon species.” A synonym is Great Escaping. Finally, a sex-idiot is is an intellectually challenged yet attractive person used for the sole purpose of having sex.

What are some of your choices for noteworthy words from TV?

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by Robert Couse-Baker]

Word Soup Wednesday: moochacracy, mad as a hatter, take it on the arches

Welcome to Word Soup Wednesday! While the television show The Soup brings you “the strange, obscure and totally unbelievable moments in pop culture, celebrity news and reality TV,” Word Soup brings you those strange, obscure, unbelievable (and sometimes NSFW) words from talk shows, sitcoms, dramas, and just about anything else on TV.


Corcoran: “My leg’s been bugging me.”

“La Tempete,” Copper, September 16, 2012

Anachronism alert! While Copper takes place in 1864, bug meaning “to annoy, pester” originated in 1949, says the Online Etymology Dictionary. For more Copper anachronisms see Prochronisms.

bully pulpit

Nucky [to Margaret]: “My name is on that hospital, and it’s not to provide you with a bully pulpit.”

“Resolution,” Boardwalk Empire, September 16, 2012

A bully pulpit is “an advantageous position, as for making one’s views known or rallying support,” and was coined by President Teddy Roosevelt in 1904. (This episode takes place in the 1920s.) More words coined by U.S. presidents.


Eli [showing his son a model airplane]: “Happy two birthdays ago.”
Will: “Pretty keen.”

“Spaghetti & Coffee,” Boardwalk Empire, September 23, 2012

Keen in this context means “great; splendid; fine,” and originated in the early 1900s.

mad as a hatter

Cullen [to Lily]: “Sober as a judge, mad as a hatter.”

“Purged Away With Blood,” Hell on Wheels, September 16, 2012

Mad as a hatter means “demented or crazy,” and originated around 1829, says the Online Etymology Dictionary, “supposedly from erratic behavior caused by prolonged exposure to poison mercuric nitrate, used in making felt hats.”

Mad as March hare is attested from the 1520s, via the “notion of breeding season.” Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with its Mad Hatter hare was published in 1865, the same year this episode takes place.


Jon Stewart: “Or the incredible tax breaks the government gives the investor class, whose money is taxed at a capital gains rate of 15% as opposed to ordinary having-a-job income which can be taxed up to 35%. Boy I wish we had a poster boy for that element of moochacracy. Oh right.” [Cuts to picture of Mitt Romney]

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 19, 2012

Moochacracy is a blend of mooch, “to get or try to get something free of charge; sponge,” and -cracy, “rule or government by.” Mooch probably comes from the Old French muchier, “to hide, skulk,” while -cracy comes from the Greek kratos, “strength.” Stewart continues:

In 2010, Governor Romney had an adjusted gross income of $21.6 million yet paid only $3 million in federal income tax, or 13.9%. Without the preferential investor tax code, Romney would have paid $7.56 million – a government subsidy of $4.56 million, or. . . .enough food stamps to feed Mr. Romney through the year 4870.


Diane Sawyer: “The Romney camp is said to be engineering a reboot.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 18, 2012

Reboot means “to turn (a computer or operating system) off and then on again; restart,” and originated in 1971, says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). The noun form originated in 1980.


Stephen Colbert: “[Obama] dropped the R-bomb! Redistribution, which is just fancy talk for ‘a black guy is coming for your stuff’! Here’s his vision for America, folks. You pay taxes into a single federal agency that pools it and redistributes it across the country to build roads and bridges, sometimes in states you don’t live in!”

The Colbert Report, September 19, 2012

Redistribution is “an economic theory or policy that advocates reducing inequalities in the distribution of wealth,” and originated around 1825, says the OED.


Eva: “You look steamy, Kevin. Can’t wait to pull those clothes off you later.”

“La Tempete,” Copper, September 16, 2012

Another anachronism. Steamy meaning “erotic” didn’t come about until 1952, almost 90 years after this episode takes place. Again, for more Copper anachronisms see Prochronisms.

take it on the arches

Woman [to Nelson]: “Take it on the arches!”

“Resolution,” Boardwalk Empire, September 16, 2012

Take it on the arches is “encouragement for one to move along and walk away via one’s foot arches.”

welfare queen

Jon Stewart: “That says nothing about the real parasites, welfare queens. Public assistance is clearly a path to dependency. I would like to see evidence otherwise.”
Video of Mitt Romney’s mother speaking of Romney’s father: “He was a refugee from Mexico. He was on relief-welfare for the first years of his life.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, September 18, 2012

Welfare queen is “a pejorative phrase used. . .to describe people who are accused of collecting excessive welfare payments through fraud or manipulation.” The term seems to have first appeared in a 1976 speech by then presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan.

That’s it for this week! Remember, if you see any Word Soup-worthy words, let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #wordsoup. Your word and Twitter handle might appear right here!