Word Buzz Wednesday: bugging; neurogastronomy; winterspreading


Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: logos that bug, making our brains go yum, and another annoying –spreading.


“The signature example of biomimetics in action may be the invention of Swiss engineer George de Mestral, who in 1948, after a hunting trip in the Alps, was frustrated and fascinated by the burrs he picked from his clothing and his dog’s fur.”

Alexis Boncy, “Behold the innovative power of biomimetics,” The Week, February 12, 2016

Biomimetics refers to the use of “biological systems as models” for design and engineering. Swiss engineer George de Mestral based the design of his very famous invention, Velcro, on the way burrs’ hooks “snared loops of thread or hair,” says The Week. (Velcro, by the way, is a trademarked term that combines the French words velours, “velvet,” and crochet, “hook.”)

The term biomimetics, says the Oxford English Dictionary, was coined in 1970. The adjective form was earlier, coming about in 1960, and was used primarily in chemistry.


“The video, which went viral, had the phrase ‘TMZ SPORTS’ embossed in the center—a branding practice known as ‘bugging.’”

Nicholas Schmidle, “The Digital Dirt,” The New Yorker, February 22, 2016

A bug refers to a television station’s logo that appears onscreen, often in the bottom corner, during part or the entirety of a show. Also known as DOG, which stands for “digital on-screen graphic,” bugs may also advertise an upcoming show.


“US-based web designer Ben Gillin said his main aim in creating the Kimunji was to mock the ‘terrible’ Kimoji, which he said were damaging to society.”

Kim Jong-un emojis take on Kim Kardashian Kimoji,” BBC News, February 12, 2016

Kimojis are emojis based on Kim Kardashian’s, er, anatomy. Kimunji uses the likenesses of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, his father, his grandfather, and other North Korean-related “news or fears,” such as nuclear warheads, a mushroom cloud, and Dennis Rodman, BBF of the Supreme Leader.


“This is the overarching principle that guides neurogastronomy: What we eat and why we eat it is as much a psychological phenomenon as a physical one.”

Maria Konnikova, “Altered Tastes,” New Republic, February 15, 2016

First there was neurothriller, now there’s neurogastronomy. Neurogastronomy, says New Republic, examines “how our sense of taste is interpreted and reinterpreted by the brain.” Yale neurobiologist Gordon Shepherd coined the term in 2006.

Shepherd’s research has shown that flavor, and what tastes good or bad to us, is all in our minds. Rather than re-engineer what we eat, says Eater, neurogastronomy focuses on “how we can re-wire the brain to perceive food differently.”


Winterspreading might occur in other cities that experience…winter, but it strikes me as a distinctly New York affliction because of the high ratio of people to available space.”

Kate Mooney, “‘Winterspreading’ Is Driving Restaurant & Bar Workers Crazy,” Gothamist, February 15, 2016

Move over manspreading (no really: MOVE): winterspreading is here. At the heart of the inconsiderate practice is taking up more than one’s fair share of space by shedding coats and other winter gear onto neighboring tables and chairs.