Wednesday Words: Herman’s ‘Cain-Wreck,’ Male Cleavage and More

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).

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David McGlynn

This week’s Cain cant: “Cain-Wreck”

As presidential candidate Herman Cain attempts to deflect mounting allegations of sexual harassment, the media has adopted a new term to describe his trajectory: “Cain-Wreck”—a play, of course, on train wreck. In general, Cain’s not doing too hot on the nickname front. In his recent book, he said that if he wins the election, he would like Secret Service to nickname him “Cornbread,” which was not universally popular. And the once complimentary nickname “Hermanator” now reads as an allusion to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelities. At least no one has figured out that his name is an anagram of “inane charm.”

Sports sneer: While Cain’s name has been bandied about in the political world, a certain NFLer has been having eponymous troubles of his own. Tim Tebow, the notably religious quarterback for the Denver Broncos, recently struck a prayerful pose in the middle of a wild field after his team triumphed over the Miami Dolphins. This led to a social media meme called “Tebowing,” along the lines of planking, where people took photos of themselves calmly communicating with God in otherwise chaotic situations. But it also led fellow players to mock him in their own games and to fights between his more righteous fans and pundits. If only the Hermanator would Tebow in the middle of the GOP debate tonight. Dreams.

Occupy vocab: corporatocracy

Among the many, many colorful signs floating around the Occupy Wall Street protests have been outcries against “corporatocracy.” This is the protesters’ favored play on “democracy,” a nod to their belief that the richest 1% have far too much power in America. The likes of economist Jeffrey Sachs have described a corporatocracy as a society in which “the lobbies dominate policy-making at the expense of the nation and contrary to the expressed opinions of the American people.” For those protesters who think the term is a little high-minded, you might try this sassy Occupy Wall Street slogan on for size: “I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.”

Speaking of symbols: Another Occupy trend that keeps popping up is the Guy Fawkes mask, popularized in the film V for Vendetta (and every year in Britain on Guy Fawkes Day, when they memorialize the activist’s failure to blow up Parliament in 1605). Vendetta is an Italian word, originally referring to Italian family feuds that were once customary in Corsica; one quotation from the OED recounts a vendetta that depopulated an entire village except for one girl. Luckily, the American game show of similar theme toned things down a bit.

(PHOTOS: Funniest Signs at the Global Occupy Protests)

Trend talk: heavage

Have you constantly struggled to describe that little triangle of chest that a man is flashing with his top buttons open? The word you’re searching for is heavage, as in a man’s cleavage, that space where he advertises whatever chest hair and pectoral muscles he has to offer the world. This is not a new term but one that will come in handy so long as “Deep V-Necks” are being touted by the likes of American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. Should you find this trend laughable, you will enjoy this recent SNL spoof. (Note: You will be shown more of Ben Stiller’s body than is probably palatable near mealtime.)

Camping, schmamping: Fashion spreads love to marry rugged landscapes with models wearing clothes no one would ever don when going to a rugged landscape. When a glamorous person goes afield, fashionistas cheekily refer to this as “glamping.” As New York Magazine notes in reference to one such spread, “You haven’t fished until you’ve done it in kitten heels.” Other glamping lessons include, “You haven’t hiked until you’ve done it in a shirt inspired by Gossamer from Looney Toons.” And, “You haven’t gone bow hunting until you’ve done it in skimpy zebra print.”

PHOTOS: Radical Beauty

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