Tag Archives: word watch

Quotable: ‘Issues’ — “One of our era’s most favored and versatile euphemisms”

issuesslash“What on earth has happened to the word ‘issues,’ that lowly, dutiful, and colorless bureaucrat of a noun? How did such a businesslike and antiseptically neutral word, the semantic equivalent of the man in the grey flannel suit, become transformed into one of our era’s most favored and most versatile euphemisms—a politely opaque nugget of soothing and pseudo-insightful psychobabble, liberally used by talk-show hosts and social-services types, a word whose reticent and clinically rational demeanor artfully conceals the ungenerous and often highly judgmental spirit in which it is so often offered? Continue reading →

Word Watch: Katie Couric effect

Colonscopia esame colon apparato digerenteWhen TV host Katie Couric had a live, on-air colonoscopy on the Today Show in 2000, and campaigned for colon cancer screening after the death of her husband two years before that, there was a pronounced increase in colonoscopies among Americans termed the “Katie Couric effect.”
The term was first used in 2002, but was resurrected in June in the Washington Post and last year in the New York Times.

Now, Canadian Word Spy Paul McFedries, who tracks new words and phrases as they enter the language, has added “Kate Couric effect” (also simply “Couric effect”) on his Word Spy website.~TM




Word Watch: ‘day surgery’ has arrived!

Credit: Gennadiy Poznyakov

Credit: Gennadiy Poznyakov

“Day surgery” has made it into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

The OED’s September update of what’s new in the Good Book included a “sub-entry” for “day surgery,” defined as “minor surgery that does not require the patient to stay in hospital overnight.”

More than 600 new words, phrases and “senses” were added to the OED since the last update in June, the publisher said.

The entry for “day surgery” noted its first use as being in 1968 in the British Medical Journal (now known as just BMJ).~TM

Word Watch: scanxiety


Canada’s Word Spy Paul McFedries has identified another new term: “scanxiety” — the mental distress felt while awaiting the results of a medical test, and particularly an MRI or CT scan (scan + anxiety).

He cites two recent uses of the word — one, an article on the BoingBoing website in 2013, and the other in the Vancouver Sun in April this year.

But the earliest use McFedries found was in 2006, in a post on a lymphoma support/forum website.~TM


Word Watch: pneumonia front

U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

“Pneumonia front” jumped out at me from the (web) pages of the Chicago Tribune last week when the U.S. National Weather Service reported a front moving from the north toward the Chicago area that was expected to drop temperatures by 20 degrees (F) within minutes, spawning thunderstorms.

Pneumonia really has nothing to do with it, except to play on the old saying that “you’ll catch your death of cold” if not dressed warmly enough. As pneumonia fronts generally occur in the spring and summer, a dramatic drop in temperature in likely to leave one inadequately dressed for the cold. Continue reading →

Word Watch: themmie

“Themmie” is a word Ben Yagoda ‏(professor of English at the University of Delaware) has suggested for someone taking a selfie:

yagoda tweet

Word Watch: pollen vortex

sf.reader1Hot off the press! Canadian Word Spy Paul McFedries was very quick off the mark to note this one, following on the heels of this winter’s polar vortex.

A “pollen vortex” is the high levels of spring pollen that are created when temperatures rise quickly following an extremely cold winter. Given the recency of “polar vortex,” it’s not surprising that the earliest citation McFedries found was just over a month ago on Twitter, tweeted by Marc Santia, a reporter for WNBC-TV in New York.

Since then, it’s appeared in Mother Jones magazine as well as the Washington Post.~TM

Word Watch: gluten-freegan

binox copyCanada’s Word Spy Paul McFedries has identified another new term: “gluten-freegan,” meaning someone who eats a gluten-free, vegan diet.

The earliest citation appeared in a Salt Lake City restaurant review on the Goldteef blog.

Another use appeared in the Post Punk Kitchen Forum in 2011. The heading – “flexitarian, seagan, beegan, etc.” – raised a host of other questions.~TM

Word Watch: Round One of the Scrabble Word Showdown

scrabbleYou may recall that Scrabble and the Merriam-Webster Dictionary invited nominations of words to be considered for inclusion in the next edition of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Today, they announced the 16 words they’ve chosen for a bracket-style “Scrabble Word Showdown,” with fans voting on the Facebook page until one word emerges triumphant.

The 16 words have been announced, none of which are the least bit medical. The list is below with the best definitions I could find for them: Continue reading →

Word Watch: digital dementia

ctty2Canadian WordSpy Paul McFedries has noted “digital dementia” as another medically-related term that has established itself in the lexicon.

He defines it as “impaired memory and cognitive functioning due to the extended use of digital devices.”

McFedries cites two uses of it this week — on in the Seattle Times and another in the Edinburgh Evening News — and gives the earliest usage to the Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo in 2005. Continue reading →

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