Word Soup Wednesday: arabber, fuchsteufelwild, nerd glaze

Decca Colour Television ( 1973 )

Decca Colour Television ( 1973 )

Every week we watch tons of TV for weird and interesting words. Here are our latest selections.

AHLTA and VistA

Jon Stewart: “The Defense Department uses a medical tracking program called AHLTA while the VA uses a generally superior program called VistA, and those two programs are unable to communicate with each other.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, March 27, 2013

AHLTA, or the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, is “the electronic medical record (EMR) system used by medical providers of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD).” VistA, the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture, is the system used by the Veterans Health Administration, the medical system of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

The systems are not entirely compatible, causing major backlogs in the processing of veterans’ disability claims.


Andrew Zimmern: “Starting in the late 1800s, arabbers were a common sight in east coast cities, markets on wheels, bringing fresh produce to people before there were neighborhood supermarkets and offering a living to African Americans who were barred from taking jobs traditionally offered to whites.”

“Baltimore and Chesapeake Bay,” Bizarre Foods America, March 25, 2013

An arabber is “a street merchant who sells fruits and vegetables from a colorful, horse-drawn cart.” The term seems to come from street arab, an obsolete and now offensive term for “a homeless vagabond in the streets of a city.” (Fans of The Wire will remember that arabbers played a part in several seasons of that show.)


Jon Stewart: “Last week the Republican party released its report on what went wrong in the 2012 election, and how the Republican party can reverse its fortune in the future. It’s a document of idealism, principle, and hope.”
Newscaster: “Officials are calling it an autopsy.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, March 26, 2013

An autopsy is the “examination of a cadaver to determine or confirm the cause of death.” The word comes from the Greek autopsiā, “a seeing for oneself.” An analysis of a finished event is also often referred to as a postmortem, which is Latin for “after death.”


Andrew Zimmern: “They’ve invited me along to try a very particular kind of rabbit hunting, better known as beagling.”

“The Ozarks,” Bizarre Foods America, April 1, 2013

Beagling is hunting with beagles. The word beagle may come from the Old French bee gueule, “loudmouth.” More on dog words.


Appraiser: “Now, dirk is basically a fancy name for a type of a dagger or a knife that evolved really from a utilitarian item to something that became very important to ceremonial purpose for the Scottish military.”

“Cincinnati,” Antiques Roadshow, April 1, 2013

A dirk is a dagger in general but refers especially to “the long and heavy dagger worn as a part of the equipment of the duniwassal, or gentleman, among the Celtic Highlanders of Scotland.”


Mawmaw: “The man said he’d bring the oil to the house, but I was flimflammed.”

“Mother’s Day,” Raising Hope, March 28, 2013

To be flimflammed means to be swindled or cheated. The origin may be Scandinavian, possibly coming from the Old Norse flim, “a lampoon.”


Nick: “Its stomp can cause the earth to shudder beneath him. Its muscles secrete a highly concentrated acid allowing him to burn and slice through their victims.”
Hank: “Sounds like our guy. That is one ugly fuchsteu – whatever.”
Nick: “Fuchsteufelwild.”

“Nameless,” Grimm, March 29, 2013

A fuchsteufelwild is a creature, or Wesen, in the Grimm universe that can transform between human and goblin-like form. The word translates literally from German as “fox devil ferocious,” and idiomatically as livid or very angry.

The fuchsteufelwild in this episode refers to himself as “rage.”


Appraiser: “The mandola is related to the mandolin the same way a viola is related to a violin.”

“Myrtle Beach,” Antiques Roadshow, March 23, 2013

A mandola is “an older and larger variety of the mandolin.” Mandolin is a diminutive of mandola, which means “lute” in Italian.

nerd glaze

Jon Stewart: “I have people who work here, in this office, who disappear for days on Game of Thrones jags, and they just come back with that sort of, ‘Can’t wait – ‘”
Peter Dinklage: “Nerd glaze.”
Jon Stewart: “You just coined something, sir. If somebody doesn’t have nerdglaze dot com right now, you have to register that.”

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, March 25, 2013

Nerd glaze is a term coined by Games of Thrones actor Peter Dinklage on a recent episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It seems to refer to an expression of daze and awe as a result of binge-watching a favorite TV show, or awe-struck fandom in general.

Nerdglaze.com has indeed been registered.


Tamsin: “Tikbalang. They’re forest creatures. I hunted them in the Philippines.”

“Delinquents,” Lost Girl, March 25, 2013

The tikbalang is “a creature of Philippine folklore said to lurk in the mountains and forests of the Philippines.” It’s a “tall, bony humanoid creature with disproportionately long limbs” and “the head and feet of an animal, most commonly a horse.” More Asian mythical creatures.

Trojan horse

Cam: “I hide what I want in something bigger and more expensive. Then when she rejects that, we ‘compromise’ on what I wanted all along. I call my method the Trojan horse. You know how I got Lily? I asked Mitchell for triplets.”

“The Wow Factor,” Modern Family, March 27, 2013

The Trojan horse is, in classical mythology, “a large hollow wooden horse built by Greek soldiers besieging Troy during the Trojan War, and left as a ‘gift’ when they pretended to abandon their seige.” The horse “was taken into the city by the Trojans, and Greek soldiers concealed inside came out and opened the gates to the city, enabling the capture of the city by the Greeks.”

Trojan horse has many figurative meanings, including “a subversive person or device placed within the ranks of the enemy”; in computing, “a malicious program that is disguised as legitimate software”; and in business, “an offer made to lure customers, seeming like a good deal, that has the ultimate effect of extorting large amounts of money from the customer.”

[Photo: “Decca Colour Television ( 1973 ),” CC BY 2.0 by Andy Beez]