Word Buzz Wednesday: cord-never, kayfabe, sneakerhead

Nike Sneaker pileup

Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, in which we round up our favorite buzzworthy words of the week. The latest: cutting the literal and figurative cords; a Pig Latin-y carny term; and addiction to footwear.

Chicago Sunroof

“The way Jimmy sees it, that Chicago Sunroof was the start of all of his problems.”

Kevin P. Sullivan, “‘Marco,’” Entertainment Weekly, April 6, 2015

The term Chicago Sunroof, which means pooping through the sunroof of a car, seems to have originated in the show, Better Call Saul. The practice might be an alteration of the earlier Chicago stoop, the act of defecating on someone’s stoop and pouring honey all over the result.


Cord-nevers, you’re in luck. . . .When the hit shows return in the next few days, they will be available for streaming online with no cable or satellite subscription.”

Anick Jesdanun, “Cord-Nevers in Luck as ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ Hit Web,” AP, April 3, 2015

A cord-never is someone who has never had cable television and watches TV via the Internet only. The earliest citation we could find for cord-never is this 2011 post by Mark Taylor, a content and media professional.

Cord-never plays on cord-cutter, someone who once had cable but has gotten rid of it. Cord-cutter earlier referred to someone who has foregone a telephone landline in favor of a mobile phone. The landline meaning has been around since at least the early 2000s.

Of course cutting the cord originally referred to cutting a baby’s umbilical cord, and by figurative extension, cutting off a source of support. Cord cutting in regard to technology has both literal and figurative connotations, referring to actual telephone and cable television cords, and to people’s dependence on such utilities.


“If you’re a Duff, let me just say, from one Duff to another, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being the Duff.”

Adrienne Tam, “Oh great, there’s a new word for the not-so-pretty, geeky schoolgirls,” The Daily Telegraph, March 25, 2015

Duff, which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend, is actually not so new: the Urban Dictionary entry is from 2003. But The Daily Telegraph is right that it was recently brought into the limelight again with a 2011 novel and a 2015 movie based on the book.

The word duff has several other meanings. It can refer to “a stiff flour pudding boiled in a cloth bag or steamed”; decaying leaves or branches; a worthless thing or person; and the buttocks. Up the duff means to be pregnant.


“I knew about what’s called kayfabe [the suspension of disbelief in staging wrestling as ‘real’].”

Arnold Pan, “Fact and Fiction: The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle on Wrestling and the Creative Process,” PopMatters, April 6, 2015

Kayfabe may have originated as carny slang referring to “old tricks, from three card monte to cure all elixers [sic] and, of course, magic acts.” A kayfabe violator “exposed the secrets behind these practices.” The word may be Pig Latin of words like fake (“ake-fay”) or the phrase, be fake (“e-bay ake-fay”).


Sneakerheads, as these avid, obsessive sneaker collectors are called, don’t consciously try to be of the same breed as those who fixate on Roseville pottery or antique clocks.”

Marc Bain, “Sneakerheads are secretly just as nerdy as yesterday’s antique collectors,” Quartz, April 6, 2015

The suffix –head in this context means fan or enthusiast. The earliest of these kinds of words might be Deadhead, a fan of the Grateful Dead, which originated in the early 1970s, says the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Gearhead meaning car enthusiast is from 1975, and in 1989 came to mean gadget or tech enthusiast. Metalhead, a fan of heavy metal music, is from 1982.

The “enthusiast” meaning of –head plays off the addict meaning in words like hophead, pothead, and crackhead.

[Photo via Flickr: “Nike Sneaker pileup,” CC BY 2.0 by Dan Hankins]