Welcome to NewsFeed’s weekly highlight of the vocabulary of our lives — including useful, new, hilarious and surprising words (as well as some that are just fun to roll off the old tongue).
Grocery store vocab: “enriched cages”
The Humane Society has teamed up with United Egg Producers to propose more detailed egg labeling. They want to mandate listing of whether products are “eggs from caged hens,” “eggs from hens in enriched cages,” “eggs from cage-free hens,” etc. “Enriched cages” are about double the size of conventional cages and allow room for hens to express natural behaviors like perching and scratching.
Labelpalooza: The FDA already mandates that egg cartons list the name and location of the producer, as well as nutrition information. And the USDA oversees size labels from “jumbo” to “peewee” and grades from “AA” to “B.” Producers meanwhile voluntarily tell consumers everything from whether eggs are organic to whether the chickens are vegetarian. Which all makes one wonder just how far the labeling (see musings above) could go.
(VIDEO: Buying Birds at the Chicken Swap)
Where Harry Potter lives forever: fandom
TIME’s Lev Grossman this week dug into Harry Potter fan fiction—”stories and novels that make use of the characters and settings from other people’s professional creative work.” And to explain the cultish world in which fans explore alternative/expanded storylines, he provides a lesson in fan fiction vocab. A fandom is “the fan culture organized around any given media franchise.”
Further reference: Among the other terms he explores are slash—”a generic term for any fan fiction that pairs two same-sex characters, be they Holmes/Watson or Cagney/Lacey or Snape/Harry”—and canon, which “refers to the facts and laws of a given fictional universe as laid out by its creator.” (You can peruse some of the unauthorized magic-making here.)
Diet diagnosis: “liar-exic”
The UK’s Daily Mail recently profiled an eating disorder they called “liarexia,” a diagnosis for “women who order huge portions of food when out with others, but dramatically restrict their portions in private.”As in, Woman X orders triple-layer nachos to throw you off the scent of her generally all-celery diet.
Avenue of the stars: The author notes that this practice is especially common among thinner leading ladies like Gwyneth Paltrow, who go to great lengths to be photographed eating in order to avoid criticism about their weight. Hollywood publicists call this DIPE, the author explains, as in “Documented Instance of Public Eating.”
(MORE: A Campaign to End “Fat Talk”)
2010’s hottest Hollyword: grit
The Global Language Monitor uses an algorithm to determine which blockbuster-related words have most influenced our language in a given year. And their newly announced No. 1 word for 2010 was grit. This was, of course, part of the title of True Grit, but gritty also applied to the run-down landscapes in The Fighter, to James Franco’s dark dilemma in 127 Hours and even to the perseverance of Woody in Toy Story 3.
Runners-up: Other Hollywood words stemming from the Oscar pack were arrogance, dream-stealers, nerds, madness and stammer. As in, “Arrogant Facebook nerds, gritty dream-stealers—and even a sexually curious ballerina descending wildly into madness—couldn’t beat out a stammering Brit for the Best Picture win.” (How embar-r-r-r-rassing.)