Word Buzz Wednesday: Amabot, invisible app, narco sub

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Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: are you a bot; apps unseen; a sketchy sub.


“‘If you’re a good Amazonian, you become an Amabot,’ said one employee, using a term that means you have become at one with the system.”

Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld, “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace,” The New York Times, August 15, 2015

Amabot, a blend of Amazon and robot, is an Amazon employee who has embraced — or given into — Amazon’s reportedly demanding work style, including long hours, sacrificed vacations, and prioritizing the office over home and family.


“One thing people aren’t happy about, though, is all the weird language required to convey the territory athleisure occupies, straddling the worlds of sport, high fashion, walking out to Starbucks, and maybe even going to work.”

Britt Peterson, “‘Athleisure,’ the awkward word for a comfortable relationship,” Boston Globe, August 16, 2015

Athleisure wear refers to athletic leisure wear, in other words “dressing like you’re going to the gym, only you’re not,” and instead of “an old T-shirt,” you’re wearing expensive “designer yoga pants and a mesh shirt with wicking panels.”

invisible app

Invisible apps are taking off because, in many cases, they are faster than using a native application or mobile website.”

Omar Bohsali, “The Burgeoning Invisible App Market,” TechCrunch, August 16, 2015

The term invisible app was coined by TechCrunch writer Matthew Panzarino to describe a type of app that lives “in the background, anticipating our needs based on sensor and contextual data, and do things for us before we even had to ask.”

narco sub

Narco subs are just one tool in a constantly evolving suite of smuggling tactics, including traditional go-fast boats, bulk shipping containers, drug mules, and planes.”

Brian Anderson, “The Hunt for Narco Subs,” Motherboard, August 17, 2015

Narco subs, says Motherboard, are mainly used by Colombian drug traffickers “to move cocaine through the Pacific maritime smuggling corridor to Mexico, where the drugs are offloaded and funneled north into the US, sometimes en route to Europe.” The narco sub is also known as a self-propelled semi-submersible or SPSS. Narco is short for narcotics as well as slang for a South American drug baron.


“While current chips are excellent at analyzing information in sequential order, the new ‘neuromorphic’ types of chips Modha’s team are working on are better suited to finding patterns in information—like the right side of the brain.”

Mike Murphy, “IBM has built a digital rat brain that could power tomorrow’s smartphones,” Quartz, August 18, 2015

Neuromorphic technology refers to “any very large-scale system of integrated circuits that mimic neuro-biological architectures present in the nervous system.” The combining form neuro comes from the Greek neuron, “nerve,” and the Greek morphe, “form, shape.”