Word Buzz Wednesday: ay up me duck, thundersnow, vape


It’s that time again: Word Buzz Wednesday — which, as Wordnik founder Erin McKean pointed out, is perfectly fine to read on a Thursday or any non-Wednesday, um, day — in which we round up five buzzworthy words from the news.

This week: Derby slang; the James Bond of weather phenomenon; and a dope word of the year.

ay up me duck

“Speaking at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles, Angelina Jolie said: ‘It is my privilege to present the New Hollywood award to the least Hollywood artist I know, straight from Derby, ay up me duck, Jack O’Connell.’”

Angelina Jolie baffles Hollywood with ‘ay up me duck’,” BBC News Derby, November 18, 2014

The phrase ay up me duck is an example of dialect from East Midlands, England. According to the BBC, ay up is a typical greeting “used in the North of England and the Midlands instead of hello”; me means “my”; and duck is a term of endearment.

According to historian Steve Birks, duck as a pet name has nothing to do with the water fowl. Instead it  comes from the Saxon ducas, a term of respect. The Oxford English Dictionary cites Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream as the earliest usage of duck as a hypocorism: “O dainty duck, o deare!”


text neck

“Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called ‘text neck,’ can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.”

Lindsey Bever, “‘Text neck’ is becoming an ‘epidemic’ and could wreck your spine,” The Washington Post, November 20, 2014

Text neck refers to the way people bend their heads “forward and down” when looking at their smartphones. The equivalent is apparently “carrying an 8-year old around your neck for several hours per day.”

To remedy text neck, says the chief of spine surgery at New York Spine Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, look down at your device with just your eyes and don’t bend your neck, and do neck exercises such as moving your head from left to right several times. (Also may we suggest taking a break from looking at your phone.)

Check out this list for more occupational hazards.


Thundersnow. It sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, and the rare weather phenomenon that occurs when thunder and lightning combine with a snowstorm can be a dangerous adversary.”

Thomas M. Kostigen, “It’s thunder. It’s snow. It’s thundersnow!” USA Today, November 22, 2014

Thundersnow is like a thunderstorm, only instead of rain you get snow. It occurs when you have “a mass of cold on top of warm air, plus moist air closer to the ground,” says USA Today. Besides lightning and a lot of snow, thundersnow also brings “ice pellets larger than hail.”


“By the same token, UKIP’s rise is further evidence of a trend that has been under way for years: the Europeanization of British politics.”

Simon Nixon, “Is the U.K. Heading for a Grand Coalition?” The Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2014

UKIP is an anagram stands for the UK Independence Party, a right-wing political party in the United Kingdom. Their policies include Euroscepticism, or opposition to “the process of political European integration”; a “limited, controlled” stance on immigration; and support for same-sex civil unions.

UKIP recently won a second seat in the British parliament.



“Yet ‘vape’ is only the tip of the linguistic iceberg, at least when it comes to marijuana.”

Jessica Bennett, “‘Vape’ Joins Pot Lingo as Oxford’s Word of the Year,” The New York Times, November 21, 2014

Vape, Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year, is short for vapor or vaporize. To vape means to smoke an electronic cigarette or marijuana.

The legalization of marijuana has given rise to new pot lingo, says The New York Times. There’s ganjapreneur, a ganja entrepreneur; cannabigotry, “bias against stoners”; and cannasseur, a cannabis connoisseur.

[Photo: “Baby Ducks,” CC BY 2.0 by Jeffrey Bary]
[Illustration via Washington Post]
[Photo: “Cinematic Smoker,” CC BY 2.0 by Sodanie Chea]