Word Buzz Wednesday: bad boy clause, Polari, shock breakout


Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: when billionaires are bad boys, a secret language, and some space slang.

bad boy clause

“Not only did Lightstone lose its $200 million equity in the deal, but Lichtenstein himself was also personally on the hook for $100 million as a result of what’s known as a ‘bad boy’ clause.”

Chloe Sorvino, “How Real Estate Billionaire David Lichtenstein Bounced Back From A $7.5 Billion Hotel Bankruptcy,” Forbes, March 23, 2016

A bad boy clause or provision is “a regulatory clause stating that certain persons are not entitled to any type of exemptions from registering their securities, because of their past conduct.” Some examples of bad boy-worthy past behavior include fraud, gross negligence that results in forfeiture of a mortgaged property, and misappropriation of rents.


“Many believe that’s unethical, but it can also make the transfers subject to what’s known as a ‘clawback’ or forfeiture if they occur in the five years before the elderly family member’s application for Medicaid.”

Jayne O’Donnell and Laura Ungar, “Navigating Medicaid for elder care can be as painful as the ailments,” USA Today, March 26, 2016

A clawback refers to already distributed money or benefits that are taken back. It can also mean “a retraction of stock prices or of the market in general.” Another meaning of clawback is a flatterer or sycophant.


“Vada (‘look at’), dolly eek (a pretty face), and chicken (a young guy) are all words from the lexicon of Polari, a secret language used by gay men in Britain at a time when homosexuality was illegal.”

Ella Morton, “The Forgotten Secret Language of Gay Men,” Atlas Obscura, March 25, 2016

According to Atlas Obscura, Polari “is derived from a mishmash of Italian, Romani, Yiddish, Cockney rhyming slang, backslang,” and cant. It was used in the 19th- and early 20th centuries “by merchant seafarers and people who frequented the pubs around London’s docks,” and in the 1930s by “the theater types of the West End, from which it crossed over to the city’s gay pubs.”

The name Polari comes from the Italian parlere, “to speak.”

shock breakout

“When a star goes supernova, it emits what’s known as as a ‘shock breakout,’ a brilliant flash of energy.”

Jim Festante, “NASA Captures the Crazy Shockwave of an Exploding Star,” Slate, March 26, 2016

A shock breakout is “130,000,000 times brighter than the sun” and lasts only 20 minutes. An example was recently captured for the first time in “visible light” by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

True Polar Wander

“A physical change in the moon’s spin axis is known as True Polar Wander, and this is the first physical evidence that the moon has undergone it.”

Deborah Byrd, “Moon’s tilt has changed over time,” EarthSky, March 24, 2016

Recently physical evidence, namely ancient lunar ice deposits, has shown that the moon has indeed undergone True Polar Wander, says EarthSky. Specifically, the moon’s axis rotation has shifted by at least six degrees.