Wednesday Words: Socialist Fruit, Forbidden Milkshakes 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

tomato (n., slang): a good socialist, as one who is red on the outside and red on the inside. A new report from the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea attempts to demystify the so-called “songbun” system, one that places citizens into one of three classes based on their allegiance to the Kim dynasty: loyal, wavering or hostile. According to CBS News, “songbun” translates roughly as “ingredients,” and each group has its own food-slang moniker. The faithful are the tomatoes. The wavering North Koreans are apples: red only on the outside. And hostiles are grapes, because we all know how disloyal and underhanded grapes can be.

unsource (v.): to transfer company functions from paid employees to unpaid volunteers, particularly customers on social networks. The newest entry on evolving-dictionary site Word Spy, “unsourcing” is delegating that buoys the bottom line. A recent Economist article uses the example of technology companies setting up online support forums where customers give each other advice, rather than providing their own customer service agents to do the work. The term has been around for at least a decade but the practice is becoming more prevalent.

MORE: Self-Service Revolution: How Touchscreens Are Replacing Human Customer Service

enemy dependency (n.): the state of continually desiring antagonists to serve one’s political or financial ends, esp. opposed to moral ones. Foreign Policy‘s David Rothkopf explains his use of the term: “Politicians love enemies because bashing them helps stir up public sentiment and distract attention from problems at home. The defense industry loves enemies because enemies help them make money. Pundits and their publications love enemies because enemies sell papers.” Not to mention the manufacturers who make their fortunes by putting unpopular faces on the undersides of toilet seats.

busk (v.): to perform music or some entertainment, esp. in the street, for monetary donations. A recent article from Smoky Mountain News walks the thin lines between performing, busking and begging: In Waynesville, N.C., buskers are beggars and therefore law-breakers if they don’t have a permit. Buskers could include guitar players, singers, jugglers, magicians, break-dancers and those “living statues”, i.e. the people who make their money by dressing up and standing still—perhaps the last career one would ever want to try to justify to one’s parents.

milkshake (n., slang): in horse racing, a performance-enhancing concoction given to a horse to combat fatigue. While some milkshakes are delicious treats and others bring all the boys to the yard, these are controversial mixtures of baking soda, sugar and electrolytes that are delivered through a tube down a horse’s nose, according to the New York Times. Milkshake is also good lingo to throw around if you’re planning to watch I’ll Have Another—whose trainer has been accused of using such milkshakes—when the horse has a crack at the Triple Crown on June 9.

MORE: Murder on the Backside: The Unseen World of the Kentucky Derby