Word Buzz Wednesday: o-fer, fontgate, omurice


Welcome to Word Buzz Wednesday, your go-to place for the most interesting words of the week. The latest: a losing streak; an extra nerdy scandal; a somewhat western Japanese dish.


“The only way that changes is if the president starts hurting the Republican brand, and judging by the Democrats’ o-fer in the four special congressional elections since Trump’s shocking victory in November, it’s going to take some dirt that sticks to bring down President Trump.”

Anthony L. Fisher, “What will happen to Donald Trump Jr. now?” The Week, July 11, 2017

O-fer or oh for means lack of success after multiple attempts. The phrase comes from sports lingo.


“Social media users have derided Sharif for this apparent misstep, coining the hashtag #fontgate.”

Sune Engel Rasmussen and Pádraig Collins, “‘Fontgate’: Microsoft, Wikipedia and the scandal threatening the Pakistani PM,” The Guardian, July 13, 2017

This typography-related scandal involves Mariam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of Pakistan’s prime minister. Sharif is under investigation regarding a “purchase of high-end London property acquired through offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands,” says The Guardian. February 2006 documents saying she was only a trustee of the company are suspected of being forged since the font, Microsoft Calibri, was only available starting in 2007.


“Chef Motokichi Yukimura has spent years perfecting ‘omurice,’ an egg omelet that, when cut, unfolds into gooey goodness — can a normal guy figure out how to make it?”

Man Attempts To Make The Most Difficult Omelet In The World,” Digg, July 2017

Omurice is an example of yoshoku, Western-influenced Japanese cuisine. (Another example is Okinawan taco rice.) Omurice is a kind of gooey omelet made with fried rice and topped with ketchup or gravy. The word is a a blend of the English omelette and rice, and is an example of gairaigo, a loan word in Japanese.

urban lumber

“Wine Glass Bar specializes in producing what’s known as ‘urban lumber’ – usable wood from city-cut trees.”

John Genovese, “The trees in your yard could have a second life,” ABC15, July 12, 2017

The Construction Specifier defines urban lumber as “wood that is obtained from trees located in cities, towns or suburbs not harvested for their timber value, but removed because of insect, disease or circumstance.” Not to be confused with urban lumberjack.

watch your six

“She’s become very good at what’s called watching your six. So if he’s facing one direction say at Walmart looking at the shelf, she’ll be behind him looking at the opposite direction.”

Priscilla Liguori, “Graduation day for VT service dogs,” WCAX, July 18, 2017

Watch your six appears to come from aviation slang, where check your six basically means “look behind you.” This is based on clock positioning, in which 12 o’clock refers to the position right in front of you and six o’clock is the opposite.