Wednesday Words: Mini-Madoffs, Gender-Reveal Parties 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

mini-Madoff (n.): one who runs a Ponzi scheme on a smaller scale than Bernard “$50 billion” Madoff. U.S. Marshals in Arizona arrested Nelson and Janet Hallahan, a couple they called “mini-Madoffs,” for allegedly bilking investors out of $1.2 million (And they’re not the only ones earning that title through dubious deeds.) It’s a moniker that says “I like to be bad, but I’m not all that good at it.”

brat tycoon (n.): an entrepreneur or innovator, particularly in the technology industry, who becomes very rich at a young age. Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is labeled a “brat tycoon” in the subtitle of a New York magazine cover story. Hopefully a young person will one day create a world-changing, sausage-centric media platform and become the brat brat tycoon.

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gender-reveal party (n.): a party at which expectant parents learn or announce the gender of their child through party favors, such as a cake that is revealed to be blue only upon being cut. These parties are apparently all the rage for parents-to-be, though the name also sounds like something androgynous people—like SNL‘s Pat—could use to finally clear up the mystery.

drive-by shootings (n., slang): in politics, 30-second attack ads used as part of a widespread, heavy yet brief assault on one’s opponent. This, at any rate, is what Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett calls such ads, a type he expects to be soon raining down across Wisconsin courtesy of his opponent, Gov. Scott Walker, in the run up to their June 5 contest for the gubernatorial seat.

protologism (n.): a neologism that is not yet accepted into a lexicon, metaphorically “newborns still in their cradles and nurtured by their parents.” In a book review of Mikhail Epstein’s appropriately titled Predictionary, the Detroit Metro Times‘ W. Kim Heron presents a sample of these protologisms. Examples include mehemize: “to confirm hearing without agreeing; sort of a verb to describe someone going ‘ummm hmmm.'” Let’s hope that one stands the test of time. Right? Hey. HEY. Are you even listening to me?

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