Office Soup: Our Favorite Words from ‘The Office,’ Farewell Season

This season wraps the eight-year run of the mockumentary about a little paper company. We’ve gathered our favorite words from the last season here.


Dwight: “What about an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas? Drink some gluhwein, enjoy some hasenpfeffer. Enjoy Christmas with St. Nicholas’s rural German companion, Belsnickel?”

“Dwight Christmas,” December 6, 2012

Belsnickel is “a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany,” and is “preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.” The name comes from the German pelz, “to pelt,” and the name Nikolaus. See also Krampus.


Jim: “Did you ever think that because you own the building, everyone in it – we’re all kind of like your children.”
Dwight: “You know, there’s a phrase about that in German: Bildenkinder. Used almost exclusively by childless landlords to console themselves.”

“Work Bus,” October 18, 2012

Bildenkinder is a nonsense German word which translates as “formation (Bilden) children (Kinder).”


Andy: “Dwight’s grandfather was – ”
Dwight: “A member of the bund, which is technically not the same thing as the Nazi party.”

“Andy’s Ancestry,” October 4, 2012

The bund was “a pro-Nazi German-American organization of the 1930s.” It was also  “a European Jewish socialist movement founded in Russia in 1897.” Bund translates from German as “alliance, league.”

chore wheel

Pam: “The building’s custodian is on vacation for the month, and Dwight is too cheap to hire a replacement. So instead we’re living in filth. But not for long because I have created. . .the chore wheel.”

“Roy’s Wedding,” September 27, 2012

Pam’s chore wheel plays off the wheel of fortune, or rota fortunae, “a concept in medieval and ancient philosophy referring to the capricious nature of Fate,” as well as the Wheel of Fortune game show.


Andy: “Are we coolio? Just say the word ‘coolio.’”
Dwight: “Not a word.”

“Couples Discount,” February 7, 2013

Coolio is slang for cool or awesome.

Dumpster Man

Kevin: “What was the word they said when they showed me? Skraldespand? What’s that mean in Danish? Cool guy?
Oscar: “Dumpster Man.”

“Promos,” April 4, 2013

Dumpster Man is what Kevin is referred to in the Danish promo for the fictional documentary of the show. The Danish word seems to be skraldemanden.


Nellie: “What if you were to stay here and ‘full-ass’ it?”

“Livin’ the Dream,” May 2, 2013

To full-ass is something is to do it to the utmost of one’s ability. Its opposite is half-ass, to do something without much effort. Half-ass is a back formation of the adjective half-assed, “not well planned or executed.” Half-assed originated around 1932, “perhaps a humorous mispronunciation of haphazard.”

gotcha journalism

Dwight: “This is gotcha journalism, and you know what? They’re not gonna gotch me.”

“The Boat,” November 8, 2012

Gotcha journalism is “any method of interviewing designed to entrap interviewees into making statements that are damaging or discreditable to their cause, character, integrity, or reputation.” The earliest citation we could find for this phrase was from 1991. Please antedate us if you can!

Irish exit

Darryl: “I hate goodbyes so last week when I left Dunder-Mifflin for good, I pulled the old Irish exit, just slipped out without making a big deal.”

“A.A.R.M.,” May 9, 2013

An Irish exit is leaving without saying goodbye. The phrase may come from the practice of Irish Americans leaving social functions without alerting anyone, knowing that goodbyes would be long and delay their departure, or perhaps, more stereotypically, leaving without a word because one is drunk.

kitchen witch

Aunt Shirley [about Angela]: “Who’s this little kitchen witch? She’s so tiny like a little kitchen witch.”

“Moving On,” February 14, 2013

A kitchen witch is a “homemade doll resembling a stereotypical witch or crone displayed in residential kitchens as a means to provide good luck and ward off bad spirit.” The country of origin may be Norway or Germany, which is where Dwight’s family, including his Aunt Shirley, is from.


Dwight: “Troy is literally one of a kind. He’s a goblin or a Hobbit or a kobold, which is a type of gremlin.”

“Junior Salesman,” January 31, 2013

A kobold is “an often mischievous household elf in German folklore.” Kobold comes from the German kobolt, which also gives us cobalt, from silver miners’ belief that the element had been placed by goblins who had stolen the silver.


Dwight: “I am so deep inside of perfektenschlage.”

“Special Project,” February 9, 2012

This word is from last season, but we couldn’t help but include it. Perfektenschlage is “when everything in a man’s life comes together perfectly.” The second meaning is “perfect pork anus.” The word translates from the German as “perfect (perfekt) bang or blow (schlage).” It’s most likely a nonsense word.

sausage factory

Pete: “This next card comes to us thanks to Meredith Palmer who called Eastern Pennsylvania Seminary a, quote, sausage factory.”

“The Target,” November 29, 2012

A sausage factory is “a party or gathering with few to no women present.” It also refers to in literature, “an unappealing process to generate something familiar”; in journalism, “the process of creating news”; and in politics, “dealing and compromise done behind the scenes to enact legislation.”

Silicon Prairie

Ryan: “I’ve actually done a lot of market research and it turns out that southwestern Ohio is going to be the next Silicon Valley. They call it the Silicon Prairie. It’s a big university town.”

“New Guys,” September 20, 2012

Silicon Prairie plays off of Silicon Valley, “a region in California to the south of San Francisco that is noted for its concentration of high-technology industries.”

The coinage of the phrase Silicon Valley is credited to journalist Don Hoefler who wrote a series of articles entitled “Silicon Valley USA” in 1971.


Erin: “Didn’t you get the memo? It’s stairmageddon!”

“Stairmageddon,” April 11, 2013

Stairmageddon is a blend of stair and Armageddon, “the scene of a final battle between the forces of good and evil, prophesied to occur at the end of the world.” As Oscar says, the Dunder-Mifflin office “has an unusually large number of unusually large people,” so when “something is routine as elevator maintenance happens and people are forced to expend cardiovascular effort, [they] have to compare it to the end of time.”

white whale

Dwight: “There’s a reason we in the paper industry call [the White Pages] the white whale. Look at all that sweet blubber.”

“The Whale,” November 15, 2012

White whale refers to Moby-Dick, the elusive white whale in Herman Melville’s novel. The expression now refers to anything desirable yet elusive to the pursuer.


Oscar: “YOLO! It’s a thing. It means you only live once.”
Kevin: “We’re aware of what it means, Oscar. You just do not look cool saying it.”

“Suit Warehouse,” January 17, 2013

YOLO stands for “you only live once.” While YOLO came about in the last few years, according to Ben Zimmer, “the exact wording of ‘you only live once’ begins cropping up in the late 19th century, and by 1937 it was popular enough to be used as the title of a Fritz Lang film noir.”


Darryl: “You’ve got a real Facebook energy going here. You Zuckerberged this place out.”

“Suit Warehouse,” January 17, 2013

Zuckerberg in this context means to turn a workplace into something hip and casual, similar to what a start-up like Facebook might be (although the employees at Jim’s company all wear suits as opposed to, say, hoodies).

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: Geophagy, Hog Maw, Rexie

1963 ... television eyeglasses

Television Eyeglasses, by James Vaughn

[Photo: CC BY-SA 2.0 by James Vaughn]


Welcome to Word Soup Wednesday, in which we bring you our favorite strange, obscure, unbelievable (and sometimes NSFW) words from sitcoms, dramas, news shows, and just about anything else on TV.

baldy house

Anthony Bourdain: “I gotta know: why do they call it a baldy house?”
Guide: “It was believed, sort of incorrectly, that if you shave a woman’s crotch bald, she’d be less likely to transmit crabs.”

“Philadelphia,” The Layover, December 3, 2012

A baldy house is a brothel and may be a play on bawdyhouse. Brothel comes from an Old English word meaning “to decay,” and at first referred to “a wretch” or “lewd man or woman.” Bawdy may come from a Welsh word meaning “mud.”


Dwight: “What about an authentic Pennsylvania Dutch Christmas? Drink some gluhwein, enjoy some hossenfeffer. Enjoy Christmas with St. Nicholas’s rural German companion, Belsnickel?”

“Dwight Christmas,” The Office, December 6, 2012

Belsnickel is “a crotchety, fur-clad Christmas gift-bringer figure in the folklore of the Palatinate region of southwestern Germany,” and is “preserved in Pennsylvania Dutch communities.” The name comes from the German pelz, “to pelt,” and the name Nikolaus. See also Krampus.


Shep Smith: “You know that one friend who just won’t let you get a word in edgewise? Well, the U.S. Senate has a friend like that. His name is filibuster.”
Jon Stewart: “And you know that one friend who comes to where you live and rearranges your stuff? Gerrymander.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, December 3, 2012

Filibuster is “the use of obstructionist tactics, especially prolonged speechmaking, for the purpose of delaying legislative action.” The word originally referred to “an adventurer who engages in a private military action in a foreign country,” specifically “the West Indian bucaneers or pirates of the seventeenth century.” Filibuster ultimately comes from the Dutch vrijbuiter, “pirate.”


Woman: “The word ‘flaneur’ in French is just to kind of wander. Here it’s okay to just be a flaneur and to dream and to walk along and then stop in a cafe.”

“Paris,” The Layover, November 26, 2012

A flaneur is “an idle, gossiping saunterer; one who habitually strolls about idly.” The word is French in origin.


Sabrina: “It’s called geophagy. I sense you have questions. Go ahead.”
Burt: “Do you wash your hands before you eat dirt? If it falls on the ground, is there a five second rule? Have you ever tried sand?”

“Squeak Means Squeak,” Raising Hope, December 4, 2012

Geophagy is “the eating of earthy substances, such as clay or chalk, practiced among various peoples as a custom or for dietary or subsistence reasons,” and is a combination of the Greek words for “earth” and “eat.”

Pica is “an abnormal craving or appetite for nonfood substances, such as dirt, paint, or clay,” and comes from the Latin word for magpie, “from its omnivorous nature.”

granny pod

Newscaster: “We’re checking out a business that makes granny pods. . . . They’re long term care housing options for the elderly. They’re portable. They can be set up right on your property, in your backyard if you want.”

The Colbert Report, December 3, 2012

Pod meaning “a casing or housing forming part of a vehicle” originated around 1950, says the Oxford English Dictionary. The earliest meaning was “in botany, a more or less elongated cylindrical or flatfish seed-vessel, as of the pea, bean, catalpa.”


Anthony Bourdain: “Maurice and I catch up with a cold rosé and a snack called a guillotine, thin slices of bread with equally thin slices of meat and cheese. Simple and good.”

“Paris,” The Layover, November 26, 2012

The guillotine, “a device consisting of a heavy blade held aloft between upright guides and dropped to behead the victim below,” or “an instrument, such as a paper cutter, similar in action to a guillotine.”

The device was named for Joseph Guillotin, who “proposed, for humanitarian and efficiency reasons, that capital punishment be carried out by beheading quickly and cleanly on a machine.”

Perhaps the snack is named for the device that slices the meat, cheese, and bread.

hog maw

Kevin: “I love this hog mama.”
Phyllis: “Dwight said it’s hog maw.”
Kevin: “What’s maw?”
Phyllis: “It’s the lining of the stomach of the pig.”

“Dwight Christmas,” The Office, December 6, 2012

The maw of hog maw comes from the Old English maga, “stomach.” Hackin is “a pudding made in the maw of a sheep or hog,” and seems similar to haggis.


Jon Stewart: “[Congresswoman Candice Miller] will be the chair of the House Administration Committee, whose responsibilities apparently range from ‘making Congress more open and accessible’ to ‘ensuring the House runs efficiently and smoothly.’ So we’ve got a woman to be, to coin a phrase, the House wife.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, December 4, 2012

A housewife is “a woman who manages her own household as her main occupation.” The word hussy, “a woman considered brazen or immoral,” is an alteration of housewife, and originally had the same meaning, “the mistress of the house.”

hyperemesis gravidarum

Jon Stewart: “While morning sickness may be all right for commoners, the royals puke fancy.”
Newcaster: “[Kate Middleton is] suffering from what is called hyperemesis gravidarum.”
Jon Stewart: “Isn’t that the spell they used to defeat Voldemort?”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, December 6, 2012

Hyperemesis is “excessive vomiting” while gravidarum means “during pregnancy.” Gravid is a clinical term for being pregnant, and comes from the Latin gravis, “heavy.”


Guide: “They actually didn’t want the women to be shaven bald. That meant you were either underage or a prostitute. So they would make them wear crotch wigs.”
Anthony: “Crotch wigs known as a merkin. Why I know this, I don’t know.”

“Philadelphia,” The Layover, December 3, 2012

Merkin is probably an alteration of malkin, “a kitchen servant, or any common woman; a slattern,” or “a mop.”


Jake [regarding Marley]: “She hasn’t been eating. She’s been skipping lunch.”
Santana [to Kitty]: “Because you’ve been telling her to? You’ve been trying to turn her into a damned rexie?”

“Swan Song,” Glee, December 6, 2012

Rexie refers to someone who views having anorexia nervosa as attractive and admirable. A synonym is pro-ana, or pro-anorexia. Rexie may be a blend of anorexia and sexy.


Sadie: “Schmidt, in my professional opinion, you have definitely earned the rank of, and I will use a phrase you coined, vagenius.”

“Eggs,” New Girl, November 27, 2012

Vagenius is a blend of vagina and genius, and refers to someone adept pleasuring a woman.

And on that note, that’s it for this week! If you notice any Word Soup-worthy words, let us know on Twitter with the hashtag #wordsoup.