Welcome to NewsFeed’s weekly highlight of our vocabulary — including useful, new, hilarious and surprising words (as well as some that are just fun to roll off the old tongue).
Political parlance: The Buffett Rule
President Obama outlined an economic growth plan this month in which he suggested the “Buffett Rule”: “that people making more than $1 million a year should not pay a smaller share of their income in taxes than middle-class families pay.” The name is taken from supercazillionaire Warren Buffett, who wrote an op-ed for the New York Times in which he pointed out that he paid a lower tax rate than other people in his office. (An op-ed he could have written with a diamond quill and unicorn-blood ink, if he felt like it.)
Self styling: In the op-ed, Buffett slangily describes himself as “mega-rich” and references his “mega-rich friends.” It’s the way a child might describe how wealthy he wants to be and suggests how unfathomably monied they are compared to most Americans. It also connotes that they have so much money—and are so accustomed to having oodles of money—that it doesn’t even bear specifying how many billions he’s talking about. All in all a well-chosen word.
The new, new planking: horsemanning
Planking, “the practice of being photographed while lying face down in an unusual or dangerous place so that the photo can be put on a social networking website,” was the first in a stream of well-publicized photo “trends.” More recently, there has been buzz about horsemanning, a hilarious pose (started by the website BuzzFeed) where two people simulate a beheading. As with all of these fleeting photo-styles, horsemanning should be outdated enough to be considered retro by next Tuesday.
Et alum: Other poses (that are supposedly trends but might just be things about three people in the world have done) are “plumbking,” the nauseous practice of incorporating a toilet into the pose; “fridging,” which is exactly what it sounds like; and “stocking,” the practice of recreating cheesy poses from stock photos. Hopes for what’s next: basketball-hooping, opossuming, ill-advised jumping.
Calendar cant: Movember
This publicity stunt is best described by the people behind the movement: “Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health.” Where I come from, men also engage in face-hair growing during the month of November for no altruistic purpose and call it “No-Shave November.” For them, renaming the month serves as an excuse to save five minutes each day and keep their cheeks warm. And, presumably, test the waters of their lumberjack fantasies.
So many moustaches: The annual World Beard and Moustache Championships, held this year in Norway, divide moustaches into various categories. There is the natural moustache (think Wild West), the English moustache (Dickens’ character), the Dali moustache (Salvador) and the Imperial moustache (Russian czar). But the category with the most potential is the “full beard freestyle,” for which this year’s winner fashioned his facial follicles into a reindeer. Perhaps a style for a certain North Pole denizen to consider in the coming months.
TV talk: royal wedding
According to the Global Language Monitor, royal wedding was the “top TV word” of the year. The second-place finisher was winner, courtesy of Charlie Sheen’s uber-public meltdown, and the third was Arab Spring, referring to the uprisings and revolutions that have taken place throughout the Arab world in recent months. At least something substantive made it onto the podium (particularly given that the fourth place finisher was X-Factor, as in the Simon Cowell show, and the fifth was—god love ‘er—Oprah).
Each word counts: The Global Language Monitor also produces an estimate of words in the English language. The number they came up with this year was 1,010,649.7 (the 7/10 of a word presumably counting a phrase a drunk person almost coined). Incidentally, according to their estimate, the number of words in our language is roughly 14% the amount of dollars Warren Buffett paid in federal taxes last year. Mega-rich, indeed.