Listening to the opening speech at the beginning of the movie “Patton” this week, I thought about today’s political correctness and wondered if such a passage could escape our present world’s heavy criticism of anything that might offend someone.
Later I had an opportunity to review a few of the 1,000 new words added to the online Oxford Dictionaries and fewer of the 1,700 new words that found a way into the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary. That short review eased my concern that Patton’s speech might be considered politically incorrect in today’s world; there’s plenty in the “new” category that fit that description.
I’m anticipating that adding this new vocabulary just to the online versions could make short work of deleting some of the gems among them when they’ve run their short popularity course.
In that category is “awesomesauce,” a new entry in the Oxford Dictionaries. The word is an adjective and means “extremely good; excellent.” This is something of a departure from the meaning of the word “awe,” defined by Merriam-Webster’s as “a mixed feeling of reverence, fear and wonder caused by something majestic, sublime, sacred …” The word “awesome” means showing awe – so there seems some redundancy in this new word – like awesome plus fudge sauce – a word perhaps to be used by giggly teenaged girls.
Let’s hope it’s tenure in the language is short-lived.
I was intrigued by the new term “manspreading,” a new noun defined as “the practice whereby a man, especially one traveling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat …”
Far be it from me to suggest that this male posture probably has been around since man’s creation and hasn’t, up to now, needed a word to describe the posture – or is it a practice? From this view it sure seems easy enough to simply ask the offending manspreader to move over, and leave off new posture definition.
Then there’s “fat-shame,” a verb defined as causing (someone judged to be fat or
overweight) to feel humiliated by making mocking or critical comments about their size.
We needed a new word for this rudeness?
Finally, “hangry,” means “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.” You can figure that one out – and maybe place a few bets on its longevity.
But according to the Oxford University Press new words to the Oxford Dictionaries are said to represent newer terms judged most significant and likely to stand the test of time.
That may be truer for a number of new words evolving from the digital world, like these added to the Merriam-Webster collection.
“NSFW” is an abbreviation that means “not safe for work” or “not suitable for work” and serves as a warning that a website or e-mail isn’t suitable for viewing from work.
“Clickbait” refers to something (such as a headline) designed to interest a reader “to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.”
And then there are some that make sense to all of us; Merriam-Webster’s addition of “dark money” is defined as “money contributed to nonprofit organizations that is used to fund political campaigns without disclosure of the donors’ identities.”
We’ll likely see a good bit of that practice in the coming months of presidential electioneering.
In the meantime, check out all the new words – and maybe make a list of those you foresee having the shortest lifespans.
Marty Carlson is a columnist for the BPT. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org