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

by Angela Tung on September 26, 2012

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.

bug

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.

keen

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.

moochacracy

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.

reboot

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.

redistribution

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.

steamy

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!

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