Wednesday Words: Tuna Scrape, Slow Jams and More

NewsFeed’s weekly highlight of our vocabulary includes 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

tuna scrape (n.): the meat left on the tuna’s spine after the fillets have been removed. It has to be scraped off, hence the name, and looks like a ground product. Also called “nakaochi scrape,” it was recently linked to a salmonella outbreak. Given the unflattering headlines and the unglamorous nature of spooning meat off a backbone, tuna scrape has drawn comparisons to “pink slime,” the most notorious meat product since Soylent Green. But this fishy stuff isn’t highly processed or spritzed with ammonia; one foodie book even calls nakaochi a “delicacy.”

slacks (n.): men or women’s trousers for informal wear; also the word the New Yorker staff wants eliminated from the English language. In an inaugural Twitter-based game, they asked for chopping-block proposals and settled on slacks as a means of updating the language of everyday fashion. (The Oxford English Dictionary, discerning compendium that it is, never even included slacks in its pages.) Literally was also an un-favorite, though it’s probably easier for people to just use that word when they mean that something is actually, exactly, factually such rather than metaphorically. As in, no, you literally did not literally lose your mind.

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robo-grader (n.): computer software that can grade thousands of times faster than humans and, according to some studies, with similar accuracy; when grading essays, also called robo-readers. Researchers from the University of Akron took 22,000 student essays and compared robo-grader scores to human scores. The results were incredibly, terrifyingly similar. The only comfort is that the automatons will, presumably, need to keep humans around to generate these flawed scribblings.

hispander (v.): in politics, to pander to Hispanics. As the general election revs up and the candidates go after crucial voting blocs, readers will be seeing more of this fusion word, as in a recent column and a column about that column, in which the writer expresses her disgust at politicians promising citizens “el mundo” every four years.

granny nav (n.): a vehicle navigation system specifically designed to help the elderly drive safely. In the United Kingdom, researchers are developing a new nav system as part of a $19 million program aimed at keeping granny in her lane and on the road. Most of the details will be divulged in June; for now we know that the system uses pictures of things like mailboxes as “visual turning cues.” And we can only hope that they’re still considering names for the product. We propose sticking with GPS: Geriatric Positioning System.

slow jam (v.): to take part in performing down-tempo, R&B-influenced music, often with emotional lyrics and deep-voiced, spoken interludes. President Obama, who has been making the rounds with his presidential vocal stylings, went on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night show this week and “slow jammed” his message on student loans. A bold choice, but one that worked well for the man Fallon called “The Preezie of the United Steezie.” Fo sheezie.

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