Best of Word Soup 2013

Welcome to the second annual Word Soup Awards!

We at Wordnik not only watch TV, we listen for interesting, hilarious, ridiculous, and sometimes NSFW words and round them up right here. Now it’s time to the recognize the best of the best.

Best Use of a Favorite Word

The Mindy Project, defenestrate

We liked this show from the start. It’s funny, clever, and the actors are great. Then star and creator Mindy Kaling broke out with one of our favorite words to describe someone being ejected out a window, and our like turned to love.

Best Made-Up Collective Noun We Should All Begin Using Immediately

embarrassment of boobies, Bob’s Burgers

Of course there shouldn’t be anything embarrassing about boobies — unless you’re a 12-year old boy — but is it worse than a drunkship of cobblers? How about a bloat of hippopotami? A superfluity of nuns? Check out this list from Oxford Dictionaries for even more crazy collective nouns.

Best Old-Timey Word That Should Be Brought Back into English

pixilated, Boardwalk Empire

The Steve Buscemi vehicle set in 1920s Atlantic City has plenty of wonderful old-timey slangbunco artist, Mickey Finn, and zozzled are just a few — but our favorite this season was pixilated.

Pixilated, meaning eccentric, whimsical, or intoxicated, shouldn’t be confused with pixelated, which refers to images with pixels large enough to be seen. Pixilated may come from a blend of pixie and the suffix –lated.

Best Star Trek Reference

The Colbert Report, Gorn

Back in March, Barack Obama dared to confuse Jedi mind trick and Vulcan mind meld. Stephen Colbert had one thing to say to the president: “You are such a Gorn.” A Gorn, in case you didn’t know, is a humanoid reptile from the Star Trek universe.

Most Ridiculous Portmanteau

cliffpocalypsemageddonacaust, The Daily Show

Last year’s winner, 30 Rock’s unwindulax, is a tough act to follow, but Jon Stewart piled on the ridiculousness and the word-parts and ended up with cliffpocalypsemageddonacaust, a blend of fiscal cliff, apocalypse, armageddon, and holocaust.

Runner-up: crotcherazzi, The Mindy Project. Crotcherazzi is a blend of crotch and paparazzi, and refers to photographers who capture, whether by design or mistake, crotch shots of female celebrities who inadvertently flash whomever might be watching.

Most Ridiculous Portmanteau-Eponym

Changnesia, Community

Community kills it with eponyms (that is, words derived from names of people). Their term, Ferris Buellerian, won last year’s prize for Best Eponym, while Britta as a verb meaning to “make a small mistake” has entered the lexicon.

This year they outdid themselves with the ridiculous portmanteau eponym, Changnesia, a blend of the surname Chang and amnesia. Changnesia is “the complete loss of memory caused by sudden trauma that was, itself, also forgotten.” It’s also known as “Kevin’s Disease.”

Best Use of Portmanteaus


The Daily Show and Colbert Report tied last year, but this year there’s one clear winner.

Veep won us over with blends like co-POTAL, relating to a shared presidency; gestictionary, a dictionary of coded gestures; and the anxiet, weight loss due to anxiety. We can’t wait to see what else they come up with when Selina tries to go full-POTAL next season.

The We’re Ashamed to Admit We Get Our Education from TV Award – TIE

The Daily Show and The Colbert Report

Of course we keep up with the news, but sometimes it’s nice to have someone explain certain terms and put them into historical context. And that’s what just what Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

We learned about the Southern strategy, a Republican party tactic to get votes in the South by “appealing to racism against against African Americans”; border surge, an increase of security along the U.S-Mexican border; narcoterrorism, “terrorism carried out to prevent interference with or divert attention from illegal narcotics trafficking; and many more.

Best Show About a Serial Killer That Also Has Interesting Words


Hannibal, a sort of prequel to Silence of the Lambs, was one of the most fascinating shows of the year. Not only did it sucker us into sympathizing with a serial killer, it gave us some interesting words, from the psychological (folie à deux), to the gruesome (blood eagle, Colombian necktie), to the random (tyromancy).

We’re looking forward to the next course.

Best Québécois-ism

l’affaire est ketchup, Parts Unknown

Leave it to chef, traveler, and writer Anthony Bourdain to introduce us to this Québécois idiom that roughly translates as “everything’s cool.” It’s almost enough to forgive Quebec for pastagate (almost).

The We’re So Glad We Finally Know the Difference Award

catsup versus ketchup, Mad Men

Speaking of ketchup, Peggy claimed the difference between that and catsup was that “catsup has more tomatoes, comes in a bigger bottle, is cheaper, but tastes just like ketchup.” However, according to Slate, there’s no difference between catsup and ketchup (and catchup for that matter).

These catsup variations may come from Amoy, also known as Xiamenese, a Chinese dialect. Ketchup caught on, says Slate, when Heinz changed “Heinz Tomato Catsup,” to “Heinz Tomato Ketchup” to distinguish it from competitors.

Best Inside Joke for New Yorkers

Second Ave subway, Mad Men

When Peggy’s realtor assured her that her York Avenue apartment would “quadruple in value” once the Second Avenue subway was finished, we had to laugh: plans for constructing a the Second Avenue subway began in 1929 and almost 90 years later, is nowhere near completion.

Best Show for British Idioms When Downton Abbey Isn’t On

Call the Midwife

Downton Abbey hasn’t been on since February, at least for those of us in the U.S. Thank goodness for Call the Midwife.

Set in London’s East End in the 1950s, the show has no shortage of terms and sayings that are probably completely familiar to many people but new to us. Push the boat out, for instance, meaning to do something extravagantly; put the tin hat on it, “to bring something to a [usually unwelcome] close or climax,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary, and with origins in World War I terminology; and tickety-boo, meaning correct or satisfactory, and perhaps coming from the Hindi phrase ṭhīk hai, “all right,”

Best Term Coined by an Actor about His Own Show

nerd glaze, Peter Dinklage

When Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones uttered these two words describing either an expression of daze and awe as a result of binge-watching a favorite TV show, or awe-struck fandom in general, Jon Stewart knew he was onto something.

“If somebody doesn’t have nerdglaze dot com right now,” Stewart said, “you have to register that.” was indeed registered shortly after the episode, and is now a cool site about nerd culture.

Euphemism of the Year

send someone on a trip to Belize, Breaking Bad

As we’ve mentioned, this season’s Breaking Bad was all about euphemisms, banal phrases said in place of, in this show’s case, horrific, unspeakable acts. Send someone on a trip to Belize, uttered by colorful phrase-maker and attorney Saul Goodman, means to have someone killed.

In response, the Belize Tourism Board offered free trips to the show’s creators and stars. From the director of marketing and industry relations: “We saw this as a great opportunity to spin the story and introduce a new audience to Belize as a potential vacation destination.”

Understatement of the Year

Red Wedding, Game of Thrones


Like many who hadn’t read the books, we didn’t know what we were in for when we sat down to watch the second to last episode of this season’s Game of Thrones.

We sensed tension at the end of the wedding between Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey, but surely everything would be all right. Peace would be restored between the Starks and the Freys, Talisa would give birth to Robb’s child, and Arya, at long last, would be reunited with her mother and brother. But we quickly learned that this would not be the case, and along with the rest of the internet, we promptly lost our sh*ts.

The wedding, which by the way was inspired by two real-life events, was a red wedding to say the very least.

What were some of your favorite words from TV this year?

[Photo: CC BY 2.0 by kreetube]