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10 Pointy Pieces of Slayer Slang from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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The Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BTVS) universe, or the Buffyverse, has always been about more than dusting vampires and banishing demons. It's also been about language. Slang, neologisms, new word forms. English professor Michael Adams explores them all and more in Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon. Here we put a stake in 10 of our favorites on the 20th anniversary of the show's debut.

1. BUFFY

The Buffmyster. The Buffster. The Buffinator. Whatever you call her, she's the Chosen One. She also has a name that was popular in the 1960s and ‘70s, perhaps because of Buffy Sainte-Marie—a Native Canadian singer prominent at the time—or the character Buffy on the sitcom Family Affair, which ran from 1966 to 1971.

In the movie Bring It On, the name refers to a stereotypical cheerleader: "Can we beat these Buffys down so I can go home?" It’s not clear if this refers to Buffy’s short stint as a cheerleader on the show although there is a Bring It On-BTVS connection: Three actors in the film—Eliza Dushku, Clare Kramer, and Nicole Bilderback—were also on Buffy as, respectively, Faith, Glory, and unnamed lackey of mean girl Cordelia Chase.

2. POINTY

"Punishing yourself like this is pointless," Giles says. "It's entirely pointy," Buffy responds. Pointy here means purposeful and meaningful—the opposite of pointless. It's also the nickname of Buffy's favorite vampire-slaying stake, Mr. Pointy.

3. SLAYAGE

The slaying of vampires, demons, or any otherworldly baddies. Adding the suffix -age is common in Buffyspeak, according to Adams. There’s saveage, as in "world saveage," and kissage, a term for kissing. Kissage was actually first used by Rudyard Kipling in 1886.

4. SITCH

Shortening or truncation is also a common technique. "What's the sitch?" Buffy asks. In other words, “What’s the situation?” According to show writer and linguist Jane Espenson, Buffy creator Joss Whedon has used "sitch" since at least his college days. “Sitch me” translates as “Bring me up to date on the situation.”

5. SCOOBY GANG

Also known as the Slayerettes and the Scoobies, the Scooby Gang's core members are Buffy, watcher/librarian Giles, witch Willow, and wisecracking everyman Xander. The gang also includes a rotating cast of characters such as Cordelia, vampire-with-a-soul Angel, and former demon Anya. Scooby Gang is named after the "meddling kids" from the cartoon Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! A 2002 film version starred Buffy's Sarah Michelle Gellar as Daphne.

6. FIVE BY FIVE

“As long as you don't go scratching at me or humping my leg,” rogue slayer Faith tells sometime-werewolf Oz, “we're five-by-five, you know?" This term meaning satisfied or good originally referred to the “the clarity of a radio signal,” Adams writes, “as measured according to five-point scales.” It originated in the 1940s as U.S. military slang.

Five by five made a recent reappearance in the Gilmore Girls revival, written by professed Buffy-holic Amy Sherman Palladino. "I’m five by five,” Rory says. “I was watching a Buffy marathon and some things stick.”

7. WIGGINS

"That place just gives me the wiggins," Buffy says. The wiggins is a state of fear, perhaps like an agitated version of “the creeps.” The term comes from 1950s slang wig out, to get excited or upset.

8. OVERSHARE

In the Buffy episode "Halloween," the slayer notes that Angel is “not exactly one to overshare." While not coined by the BTVS writers, this term for excessively sharing personal information may have been popularized by the show. Visual Thesaurus says an early usage is from 1996 while this episode of Buffy aired in 1997.

9. EDGE GIRL

"You really got some quality rage going. Really gives you an edge,” Faith tells Buffy. "Edge Girl," Buffy responds. "Just what I always wanted to be." Edge Girl is a play on It girl, a stylish and well-known young woman. The term "It girl" was coined by British writer Elinor Glyn in reference to silent film star Clara Bow, while “it” meaning sex appeal originated with Rudyard Kipling.

10. SCULLY

"I cannot believe that you of all people are trying to Scully me," Buffy says to Giles. Scully, of course, refers to skeptical Agent Dana Scully of The X-Files.

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'Froyo,' 'Troll,' and 'Sriracha' Added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
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Looking for the right word to describe the time you spend drinking before heading out to a party, or a faster way to say “frozen yogurt?" Merriam-Webster is here to help. The 189-year-old English vocabulary giant has just added 250 new words and definitions to their online dictionary, including pregame and froyo.

New words come and go quickly, and it’s Merriam-Webster’s job to keep tabs on the terms that have staying power. “As always, the expansion of the dictionary mirrors the expansion of the language, and reaches into all the various cubbies and corners of the lexicon,” they wrote in their announcement.

Froyo is just one of the recent additions to come from the culinary world. Bibimbap, a Korean rice dish; choux pastry, a type of dough; and sriracha, a Thai chili sauce that’s been around for decades but has just recently exploded in the U.S., are now all listed on Merriam-Webster's website.

Of course, the internet was once again a major contributor to this most recent batch of words. Some new terms, like ransomware (“malware that requires the victim to pay a ransom to access encrypted files”) come from the tech world, while words like troll ("to harass, criticize, or antagonize [someone] especially by provocatively disparaging or mocking public statements, postings, or acts”) were born on social media. Then there’s the Internet of Things, a concept that shifts the web off our phones and computers and into our appliances.

Hive mind, dog whistle, and working memory are just a few of the new entries to receive the Merriam-Webster stamp of approval. To learn more about how some words make it into the dictionary while others get left out, check these behind-the-scenes secrets of dictionary editors.

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How New Words Become Mainstream
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If you used the words jeggings, muggle, or binge-watch in a sentence 30 years ago, you would have likely been met with stares of confusion. But today these words are common enough to hold spots in the Oxford English Dictionary. Such lingo is a sign that English, as well as any other modern language, is constantly evolving. But the path a word takes to enter the general lexicon isn’t always a straightforward one.

In the video below, TED-Ed lays out how some new words become part of our everyday speech while others fade into obscurity. Some words used by English speakers are borrowed from other languages, like mosquito (Spanish), avatar (Sanskrit), and prairie (French). Other “new” words are actually old ones that have developed different meanings over time. Nice, for example, used to only mean silly, foolish, or ignorant, and meat was used as blanket term to describe any solid food given to livestock.

The internet alone is responsible for a whole new section of our vocabulary, but even the words most exclusive to the web aren’t always original. For instance, the word meme was first used by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

To learn more about the true origins of the words we use on a regular basis, check out the full story from TED-Ed below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

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