Tag Archives: word watch

Word Watch: conversation • Journalists should reclaim the word “interview”

convoslashI’m not sure when it started, but the “conversation” bug seems to have infected everyone at CBC Radio, at least in Toronto.

It may have spread more widely, but I’m a dedicated CBC Radio listener, and the aural assault is the more noticeable than if it appears in print or is used on TV with the distraction of visuals.

The principal offenders here are Matt Galloway of CBC’s “Metro Morning” and Gill Deacon of “Here and Now” (the afternoon programme). They use the word to mean “public discourse” as well as “interview.” But never (or almost never) to mean the kind of informal talk the word connotes if not denotes. Continue reading →

Word Watch: deprescribing (and frailty)

deprescribe picThe success of modern medicine has meant that the longer people live, the more managed conditions they will have.

In some circles, that’s known as “co-morbidities”; in the editorial in this month’s (March 2014) issue of Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB, a BMJ journal), it’s “multimorbidity.” (Editor’s note: Toe-MAY-toe, toe-MAH-toe.)

The editorial notes that multimorbidity has led to polypharmacy which can result in drug interactions.

One way to prevent drug interactions is to avoid “problematic polypharmacy” and practice “appropriate polypharmacy,” including “medicines optimization” which must include the notion of stopping some medications, or “deprescribing.” Continue reading →

Make up a word — it could wind up in the dictionary

scrabblegraphicHasbro, the company that markets Scrabble, has invited players (actually, all and sundry) to nominate a word to be included in the next edition of The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

“To keep relevant for today’s fans, Scrabble and Merriam-Webster … have reserved a spot in the dictionary for a word nominated and chosen by Scrabble fans during the Scrabble Word Showdown,” a news release from the company said.

Hasbro seems to have in mind words like “selfie” and “hashtag,” pointing to “changes in technology, trends and pop culture events [that] have introduced many new words” since the last edition of the Scrabble dictionary was published in 2005.

But surely we can do better than that. Continue reading →

Word Watch: bikini medicine

11949849661308840073female_symbol_dan_gerhar_01.svg.hiCanada’s “word spy” Paul McFedries has been busy this week, posting yet another medically-related new phrase: “bikini medicine.”

McFedries defines this as “medical practice, research, and funding that focuses solely on the female breasts and reproductive system.” Continue reading →

Word Watch: sitting disease

boyThis week, Canadian word-watcher (actually, “word spy”) Paul McFedries flagged “sitting disease” as a new phrase that has entered the lexicon.

“Well, of course,” you may say, “the news has been full of ‘sitting disease’ in the last few weeks.”

However, McFedries found the earliest use of the phrase in a USA Today article from January 2009.~TM

Word Watch: OED seeking origins of WWI medical terms

sf.reader1Editors of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) have issued an appeal for references to terms that were coined during the First World War.

To mark the start of the Great War, the OED is revising war-era coinages. “Part of the revision process involves searching for earlier or additional evidence, ” the editors wrote. “Our first quotations are often from newspapers and magazines, and we know that there may well be earlier evidence in less-easily-accessible sources such as letters, diaries, and government records, many of which are now being made available in digital form for the first time.”

Two medical terms are among those for which the OED is hoping to find earlier references: shellshock and trench foot/mouth. Continue reading →

Word Watch: Fascinoma

house of godThe New Republic magazine’s “Jargonist” must have been hard up for a post when she decided to tackle “fascinoma.” She traces its source to at least 1978, when it appeared in Samuel Shem’s book House of God. Which may be why she listed as those who use it: “internists, brown-nosing residents and doctors over 60.”~TM

Word Watch: Iconic

slash iconicIt’s a bit late in the “new” year to be mentioning end-of-(last)-year lists… except in this case.

At the end of December (2013), BBC News Magazine published a list of 20 of 2013’s most overused words.  “Some of these terms have markedly peaked in 2013,” said the article by Vanessa Barford. “Others are post-millennial perennials that still seem to be growing.”

The latter is definitely the case with “iconic,” which is #20 on the list. Continue reading →

Are you reading a news story — or a barely-rewritten press release?

child.newspaperHave you ever read a purported news story that sounded suspiciously like a press release?

Now, the The U.K.’s Media Standards Trust has updated its tool for determining how close that story is to a news release.

The tool is called “Churnalism” and is available at churnalism.com. It’s a browser extension for Chrome and Firefox. Called a “churn engine,” it runs in the background to distinguish journalism from “churnalism” (about which, more in a minute). It operates while you’re reading a news story or you can go to the Churnalism site and enter a URL or some text to determine how closely the story matches a news release — if at all — as well as where the “churn” comes from and it will display  the churned text. Continue reading →

Word Watch: anti-vaxxer

Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner

Canadian Paul McFedries tracks new words as they enter the language on his Word Spy website. In mid-December, he noted “anti-vaxxer,” which of course is a person who refuses to have his or her children immunized, fearing that vaccines are harmful.

According to McFedries, the earliest use of “anti-vaxxer” was in 2004 in a comment on mothering.com. Continue reading →

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