Word Buzz Wednesday: lodestar, shadow banning, sitzfleisch

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Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your weekly roundup of some of the most interesting words of the week. The latest: a (possible) telltale word, banning (but not really), one good thing about sitting on your keister.


“In the editorial, the writer, who claims to be ‘part of the resistance’ inside the administration, refers to the late Senator John McCain as a ‘lodestar for restoring honour to public life and our national dialogue’.”

Does ‘lodestar’ guide us to anti-Trump op-ed author?” BBC, September 6, 2018

Some have speculated that the writer behind the anonymous New York Times op-ed criticizing Trump is none other than “Vice-President Mike Pence, because he has used the word [lodestar] – otherwise rarely heard – with some regularity,” says BBC. A lodestar is a star, especially Polaris, used as a point of reference. It’s also a guiding principle, interest, or ambition.

shadow ban

“The storm over ‘shadow banning’ of Republicans on Twitter broke out in July after Vice News reported that some politicians didn’t show up in a drop-down menu of automatically suggested searches, even when typing in the politicians’ names.”

Twitter CEO says ‘shadow ban’ not impartial,” PBS, September 5, 2018

According to Lifehacker, a shadow ban “is a form of ban that isn’t immediately obvious to the user.” In other words, “the user is allowed to keep posting, but their posts don’t show up to anyone but themselves.” Twitter claims not to engage in shadow banning although some accounts might disappear from search results and followers suggestions if “they’re linked to abuse and spam.”

trash panda

According to Business Insider, in early 2014, Redditor /u/CarlPeligro made a comment on a photo of a raccoon: ‘Raccoons = trash pandas.’ That description stuck.”

Leada Gore, “What is a Trash Panda? Slang word for raccoon gives Alabama baseball team its name,” AL.com, September 6, 2018

The term trash panda is at least half right. Raccoons will eat almost anything, says Living with Wildlife, and those that live near humans will often “eat garbage and pet food.” But despite their similar eyemask-like markings, giant pandas and raccoons are not closely related.

lawnmower parents

“Although the term lawnmower parenting — describing moms and dads who will do just about anything to ensure their kids don’t have to deal with any type of struggle — isn’t new, a teacher’s viral essay on the subject has brought the parenting style into the spotlight.”

Alessia Santoro, “8 Signs That You’re Definitely a Lawnmower Parent,” Popsugar, September 7, 2018

Move over helicopter parents, lawnmower moms and dads are here. In an anonymous essay published at We Are Teachers, lawnmower parents are described as going “to whatever lengths necessary to prevent their child from having to face adversity, struggle, or failure,” and “instead of preparing children for challenges, they mow obstacles down so kids won’t experience them in the first place.”


“To impress a boss in the workplace, however, there is a single quality that’s similarly best expressed auf Deutsch: something called sitzfleisch.”

Emily Schultheis, “Sitzfleisch: The German concept to get more work done,” BBC, September 4, 2018

Sitzfleisch translates from German as “sitting meat” or “sitting flesh” – in other words, says BBC, “a term for one’s behind or bottom.” The term refers to having “the ability to sit still for the long periods of time required to be truly productive,” as well as “the stamina to work through a difficult situation and see a project through to the end.”