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11 'Word of the Year' Candidates Everyone Forgot Immediately

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This year "selfie" edged out "twerk" to become the 2013 Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year. Other shortlisted terms include "schmeat," "Bitcoin," and "showrooming." Of these, selfie may be the most viable, but hindsight tells us that Word of the Year candidates have not always fared so well.

1. Moofer

Mobile out-of-office workers earned their own noun in 2008, when "moofer" was a candidate for the Oxford American Dictionary (OAD) Word of the Year. The suggested verb form? Moofing, as in "I won't be at the meeting Thursday, I'm moofing from Starbucks."

2. Deleb

Voted 2009's "Novelty Word," a deleb is a dead celebrity. It was listed by OAD alongside the arguably more useful "tramp stamp."

3. Googlegänger

Lots of people have a Googlegänger. That's the person with your name who shows up in search results when you google yourself. ("Google" as a verb was recognized as 2002's "Most Useful Word" by the American Dialect Society.)

4. Mellencamp

A woman who is too old to be a cougar can be called a mellencamp, thanks to 2011's ADS "Most Outrageous" Word of the Year, inspired by singer John Cougar Mellencamp's multiple name changes.

5. Sardoodledom

This selection from Merriam–Webster's Word of the Year list in 2004 is a one-word noun which describes a stage play with an overly dramatic or morally objectionable plot, derived from the name of French dramatist Victorien Sardou.

6. Infobahn

Just as the autobahns are Germany's coordinated federal expressway system, the infobahn is the information superhighway (the winner in 1993). The term was voted 1994's "Most Promising" Word of the Year by the ADS.

7. Blamestorm

Another M-W pick from 2004, blamestorm describes a meeting or discussion held for the sole purpose of assigning blame for a failure.

8. Pecksniffian

From Charles Dickens' character Seth Pecksniff, a pecksniffian is a person who hypocritically affects a high moral standing or practices pecksniffery, the universally irritating art of being sanctimonious. "Pecksniffian" and its derivatives were chosen by Merriam–Webster as one of 2007's Words of the Year.

9. Heaven-o

Because 80% of "hello" is from H-E-double-hockey-sticks. The entirely useless "heaven-o" was elected "Most Unnecessary" by ADS in 1997, never to be mentioned again (until now).

10. Flog

"Flog" has been a verb meaning "to beat or to whip" since the 17th century, but in 2006 it was a runner-up in the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year list as a noun: fake+blog, or a website that appears to be real but is actually just a form of marketing or advertisement for a company.

11. Carrotmob

A carrotmob is the opposite of a boycott: A group of people gather to support a business by descending upon it en masse and shopping there all at the same time. The word was one of those shortlisted by Oxford Dictionaries in 2008; it comes from the name of the website used for organizing such things.

This post originally appeared in 2011.

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10 Obscure Bride-Related Words to Use During Wedding Season
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These obscure bride-related words make you sound smart as you catch or dodge the bouquet.

1. BRIDELOPE

No relation to the jackalope, this is, as the Oxford English Dictionary puts it, “The oldest known Teutonic name for ‘Wedding’.” Bridelope can also mean the bridal run, in which the bride proceeds to her new home, with or without tin cans attached to the car.

2. EPITHALAMIUM

This is a poem written specifically for a bride and groom, wishing them the best. The word epithalamium is derived from Latin and has a rare variation used in an 1802 letter by Thomas Twining: “He will epithalamise you in person, I suppose.”

3. WEDDINGER

Going to a wedding? Then you’re a weddinger. This term can also refer to everyone in the wedding, including the bride and groom. A use in George Vaughan Sampson’s 1802 book Statistical Survey of the County of Londonderry is characteristic: “After a few days' carousal among the groom's friends, the weddingers move towards the bride's country.”

4. MOTHER'S PRIDE

The silly world of Cockney rhyming slang is always ready with a synonym: mother’s pride is a nice one for bride.

5. AND 6. TOWEL SHOWER AND GREENBACK SHOWER

Towel shower is a regional variation of bridal shower found in the Northern U.S. The Dictionary of American Regional English records an example from back in 1900: “On Monday a ‘towel shower’ was given ... About 40 ladies were present, each bringing a dainty towel, hemstitched or embroidered ... [A]t the close of the afternoon all surrounded the bride and showered them upon her.” On the other hand, a greenback shower involves giving the bride money.

7. AND 8. MORGANATIC AND LEFT-HANDED

A morganatic marriage is a predecessor of today’s prenups: The union involves a member of the nobility and a common person, with the understanding that the commoner will never inherit any of that sweet royal cash. A left-handed marriage means the same, apparently because the left hand was offered ceremoniously in such unions.

9. CALLITHUMPIAN

This term has several meanings, and they’re all boisterous and exuberant. Often, the word applies to merrymakers who are celebrating a noisy holiday such as New Year’s or July 4. But other times, a callithumpian parade is making a racket for a wedding—but not always in support. A description in an 1848 Bartlett book of Americanisms describes a strange scene: “Callithumpians ... On wedding nights the happy couple are sometimes saluted with this discord by those who choose to consider the marriage an improper one, instead of a serenade.”

10. BROOSE

Now here’s a strange Scottish custom which nonetheless must have been entertaining: Broose, since the 1700s, has referred to a horseback race (involving young fellas) from the site of the wedding to the happy couple’s home. The winner would obtain a colorful handkerchief for winning the broose. Sometimes the race is by foot.

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9 Sweet Old Words for Bitter Tastes and Taunts
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Whether you’re enjoying the sharp taste of an IPA or disliking some nasty words from a colleague, it’s hard not to talk about bitterness. But we could all use a few new—or old—terms for this all-too-common concept. So let’s dig into the history of English to find a few words fit to describe barbs and rhubarbs.

1. STOMACHOUS

Have you ever spoken with bile and gall? If so, you’ll understand why stomachous is also a word describing bitterness, especially bitter words and feelings. This is an angry word to describe spiteful outbursts that come when you’ve had a bellyful of something. In The Faerie Queen, Edmond Spencer used the term, describing those who, “With sterne lookes, and stomachous disdaine, Gaue signes of grudge and discontentment vaine." You can also say someone is “stomachously angry,” a level of anger requiring a handful of antacids.

2. WORMWOOD

Artemisia absinthium (wormwood) is the patron plant of bitterness, which has made wormwood synonymous with the concept. Since at least the 1500s, that has included wormwood being used as an adjective. Shakespeare used the term in this way: “Thy secret pleasure turnes to open shame ... Thy sugred tongue to bitter wormwood tast.” George Parsons Lathrop reinforced this meaning in 1895 via the bitterness of regret, describing “the wormwood memories of wrongs in the past.” Unsurprisingly, some beers are brewed with wormwood to add bitterness, like Storm Wormwood IPA.

3. BRINISH

The earliest uses of brinish are waterlogged, referring to saltiness of the sea. The term then shifted to tears and then more general bitterness. Samuel Hieron used it in his 1620 book Works: “These brinish inuectiues are vnsauory” [sic]. Nothing can ruin your day quite like brinish invective.

4. CRABBED

Crabby is a popular word for moods that are, shall we say, not reminiscent of puppies and rainbows. Crabbed has likewise been used to describe people in ways that aren’t flattering to the crab community. The Oxford English Dictionary’s etymological note is amusing: “The primary reference was to the crooked or wayward gait of the crustacean, and the contradictory, perverse, and fractious disposition which this expressed.” This led to a variety of meanings running the gamut from perverse to combative to irritable—so bitter fits right in. Since the 1400s, crabbed has sometimes referred to tastes and other things that are closer to a triple IPA than a chocolate cookie. OED examples of “crabbed supper” and “crabbed entertainment” both sound displeasing to the stomach.

5. ABSINTHIAN

This word, found in English since the 1600s, is mainly a literary term suggesting wormwood in its early uses; later, it started applying to the green alcohol that is bitter and often illegal. A 1635 couplet from poet Thomas Randolph sounds like sound dietary advice: “Best Physique then, when gall with sugar meets, Tempring Absinthian bitternesse with sweets.” A later use, from 1882 by poet Egbert Martin, makes a more spiritual recommendation: “Prayer can empty life's absinthian gall, Rest and peace and quiet wait its call.”

6. RODENT

Now here’s a bizarre, and rare, twist on a common word. Though we’re most familiar with rodents as the nasty rats digging through your garbage and the adorable hamsters spinning in a wheel, this term has occasionally been an adjective. Though later uses apply to corrosiveness and literal rodents, the earliest known example refers to bitterness. A medical example from 1633, referring to the bodily humors, shows how this odd term was used: “They offend in quality, being too hot, or too cold, or too sharp, and rodent.”

7. NIPPIT

The first uses of nippit, found in the 1500s, refer to scarcity, which may be because this is a variation of nipped. In the 1800s, the term spread to miserliness and narrow-mindedness, and from there to more general bitterness. OED examples describe “nippit words” and people who are “mean or nippit.”

8. SNELL

This marvelous word first referred to physical and mental quickness. A “snell remark” showed a quick wit. But that keenness spread to a different sort of sharpness: the severity or crispness of bitter weather. An 1822 use from Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine uses this sense: “The wintry air is snell and keen.”

9. TETRICAL

The Latinate term for bitterness and harshness of various sorts appears in José Francisco de Isla's 1772 book The History of the Famous Preacher Friar Gerund de Campazas, describing some non-sweet folks: "Some so tetrical, so cross-grained, and of so corrupt a taste." A similar meaning is shared by the also-rare terms tetric, tetricity, tetricious, and tetritude. Thankfully, there is no relation to the sweet game of Tetris.

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