Tag Archives: word watch

Word Watch: Track-a-holism

Athletic people sharing workout data from their smartwatches.

Credit: Viacheslav Iakobchuk/Adobe Stock

Track-a-holism (or trackaholism, whose adherents or victims are known as track-a-holics or trackaholics) is the latest addition to the lexicon noted by Canada’s Word Spy, Paul McFedries.

The term – meaning “a compulsion to monitor one’s health and fitness metrics, particularly those generated by apps and electronic devices – has a fairly recent history, with McFedries noting the earliest usage in 2014.

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Word Watch: verbicaine

Group of surgeons at work operating in surgical theatre

Credit: megaflopp/Adobe Stock

Canadian Word Spy Paul McFedries has flagged”verbicaine” as a new term that has entered the medical lexicon.

It comes from “verbal” and “-caine” (anesthetic), and refers to “soothing words used to calm or distract a patient who is awake during a surgical procedure.”

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Word Watch: almost alcoholic

Credit: Ahileos

Credit: Ahileos

Tip o’ the hat once again to Paul McFedries, Canada’s Word Spy for noting the rise in the use of ‘almost alcoholic.’

He defines the term as “a person who exhibits some of the symptoms or behaviors associated with alcoholism, but who is not a full-blown alcoholic.”

He cites the earliest use in a New York Daily News story in which then-U.S. President George W. Bush was described by an adviser “a recovering alcoholic or almost-alcoholic,” which led him to “really [believe] in the power of faith to get you through times of trouble.” Continue reading →

Word Watch: mentor/mentee/manatee?

Manatee - a word that is uncomfortably similar to "mentee"  •  Credit: Nicolas Larento

Manatee – a word that is uncomfortably similar to “mentee” • Credit: Nicolas Larento

File under “too close for comfort.”

I have never liked the word “mentee” as the name of the recipient of another’s mentoring. Too close to “manatee.”

I was put in mind of it again when Dr. Lucy Ferriss (PhD), writing in Lingua Franca, a blog of  The Chronicle of Higher Education, opined recently about whether “mentor” is a noun or a verb. Continue reading →

Word Watch: expediate (aka ‘expedite’)

Credit: Poussin jean

Credit: Poussin jean

‘Expediate’ — which most of us know as ‘expedite’ — has been gaining legitimacy.

The American Heritage Dictionary online has a new entry for it, although it labels the word a “usage problem.”

“Some people use the verb expediate where expedite would properly be used, as in The government wants to expediate the processing of visa applications. The Usage Panel roundly rejects expediate. In our 2009 survey, 85 percent rejected the sentence quoted above.” Continue reading →

Word Watch: device: an ‘absurdly vague’ term • Vote for an alternative!

Credit: Rawpixel

Credit: Rawpixel

Not strictly medical, but relevant:

Ottawa journalist Dan Gardner issued a challenge on Twitter the other day, urging his followers to help him come up with an alternative term to “device” to designate … devices … like smart phones and tablets.

“We need a label for iPads and the rest that isn’t the absurdly vague ‘device,’ Gardner wrote. “I like ‘combadge’ because geek. But open to suggestions.” Continue reading →

Word Watch: fruitloopery

Credit: drjohn08318

Credit: drjohn08318

Fruitloopery — the improper or ignorant use of scientific or technical language to make a false or impossible claim seem more believable — is the latest addition to the lexicon by Canada’s Word Spy, Paul McFedries.

It comes from the use of the term “fruit loop” as a “whimsical way of describing someone who is a bit crazy, scatterbrained, or weird,” which has been used in that sense since at least 1982, McFedries wrote on his WordSpy website.  McFedries says it  “likely” comes from the Kellogg’s cereal  Froot Loops (but I ask you: where else would it have come from?), with a boost from associations with the word loopy, meaning crazy or bizarre. Continue reading →

Cancer: ‘bravery and fighting have nothing to do with it’

wwbravelyfightingIn his recent list of the “top 10 most fatuous phrases in the English language,” Rod Liddle, the somewhat controversial associate editor of The Spectator, included at #7, “bravely fighting cancer.”

“An odious phrase, patronizing and meaningless,” Liddle wrote. “All people with cancer are bravely fighting the vile disease. All people with cancer who have decided not to fight it, but instead to acquiesce, are also brave — perhaps even more brave. In truth, ‘bravery’ and ‘fighting’ have nothing to do with it.”~TM

Etymology of Ebola

Credit: bradcalkins

Credit: bradcalkins

The catastrophic outbreak of Ebola virus in western Africa and the questionable quality of the response by Western “donor” countries has filled newspapers, magazines and broadcast media, not to mention the Internet, for the last several months.

Some of the coverage has reviewed the short life of medicine’s awareness of the virus which was discovered in 1976 by a team of scientists including Dr. Peter Piot, currently director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Now, Dr. Allan Metcalf (PhD), professor of English at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., has decided to revisit the origin of the word “Ebola” in the Lingua Franca blog of  The Chronicle of Higher Education. Continue reading →

Word Watch: Ebolaphobia

Credit: gustavofrazao

Credit: gustavofrazao

Canada’s Word Spy Paul McFedries has flagged “Ebolaphobia” as a new entry to the lexicon.

Perhaps no surprise there, given the dominance of Ebola in the news, but what’s strange about this entrant is that it’s practically brand new. Like the compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary, McFedries logs citations for the words he spies — and in this case, the earliest citation is mere months ago.

According to McFedries, the first use was on 31 July on the website HPANWO Voice which is described as a forum for the HPANWO to review global news and trends. Continue reading →

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