There have been some wonderful new additions to online dictionaries recently, although Grexit has never been one of my favourites. And now the spin doctors have coined ‘Brexit’ for a possible UK exit from the European Union.
The latest I’ve come across is in connection with the Chilcot Inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War. The inquiry has come under fire (pun intended) for its long-delayed conclusions. Indeed, the inquiry was announced in 2009 and is still ongoing, with further delays expected due to the legal requirement of ‘Maxwellisation’.
This word comes from the affair of publisher Robert Maxwell, who was criticized in a 1969 report by the Department of Trade and Industry, which announced he was “unfit to hold the stewardship of any public company”. Maxwell took the DTI to court, where the judge ruled the DTI had “virtually committed the business murder” of Maxwell. To avoid any recurrence of this ruling, prior notice of critical findings has to be given to those affected by them.
During the last Olympics in 2012 the commentators got way overexcited about Team GB’s prospects of winning shiny things or – as they put it “medalling” in various events. Even greater excitement has been caused because distance runner Mo Farah has just won double gold medals in the latest World Championships in Beijing.
Of the latest word manglings to be officially recognised, ‘hangry’ is almost self-explanatory. It’s a display of bad temper caused by lack of food. Or, alternatively, the excuse used by TV ‘Top Gear’ presenter Jeremy Clarkson as the reason for thumping his producer and getting sacked from the BBC. (Not that he should worry, Netflix are now paying him £10m a year to do the same job.)
I did have a chuckle at ‘manspreading’ as a new word. It’s the habit blokes seem to have – particularly while travelling on public transport – to sit with their legs as wide apart as possible. Just … put it away, will you? I know there are arguments that the narrower construction of the male pelvic girdle means they need to spread their legs for greater stability, but I’m not really buying it, guys.
One of the best words to make it into the online dictionaries is ‘Mx’ which is a totally gender-nonspecific prefix for people to use instead of Mr/Ms etc. It first appeared in the 1970s, but has been gaining popularity in more recent years. I applaud this one, and may start using it myself. (There are people who’ve wondered about me for years. Why not utterly confuse them?)
I’m sure we’ve all had phishing emails, but the latest development to this is ‘spear phishing’, which is spam that aimed to induce the recipient to reveal confidential – usually financial – information. It usually comes from an apparently trusted source rather than the total stranger from some small African country telling you he has access to the treasury which he needs to get out of the country and he’ll split it with you if you’ll just provide your bank account details …
And do you remember when the portmanteau word ‘spam’ was just a simple combination of ‘spare parts’ and ‘ham’?
Apparently also included in the latest update are such words as ‘brain fart’, which is a momentary lapse of … erm … y’know.
Also, ‘MacGyver’ from the mullet-ridden character in the TV show of the late 1980s, early 1990s, who fixed things in an improvised way. Hence, “We managed to MacGyver the Large Hadron Collider back together with chewing gum and duct tape.”
As I’ve done nothing but explore new words this week, I’ll dispense with the usual Word of the Week, but I’d love to hear your favourite – and least favourite – new words, or old words with annoying new meanings?