Wednesday Words: “Legitimate Rape,” TV Slang 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 say).

  • Share
  • Read Later
David McGlynn

legitimate rape (n.): an act of sexual intercourse that is considered forced and illegal based on the woman’s true feelings of resistance; believed, erroneously, to cause fewer pregnancies than consensual intercourse. By now, we’ve all heard the story of Rep. Todd Akin: He made a statement suggesting that, if “legitimately” raped, a woman’s body would reject a pregnancy, so abortion need not be available to her. The inevitable sorry-I-misspoke apology came soon after, as did near-universal condemnation from both Democrats and Republicans, but this phrase will long remain a benchmark for wildly offensive foot-in-mouth incidents.

financial infidelity (n.): unfaithfulness or disloyalty to one’s spouse in money-related matters. You know, like that time you hid a big wad of cash from your husband, as in a recent New York Magazine article. Or perhaps it was that time you said your bonus was smaller than it actually was. Or maybe it was the time you supported a secret second family for decades. It’s obviously unclear what you’re capable of. I thought we had something special!

(MORE: Todd Akin and Other Politicians Who Confused Science)

Beltway Clerk (n., slang): a derisive term for a Washington political operative; may refer to ‘defense experts’ who have never served in the armed forces. This definition comes from a dictionary of military slang called Embrace the Suck. The author, Austin Bay, writes here about the collection and the importance of “milspeak”–military slang–in an article for the Chicago Tribune. Embrace the suck is an Operation Iraqi Freedom phrase meaning to accept the difficulties of war. Or as Bay puts it elsewhere, “Face it, soldier. I’ve been there. This ain’t easy. Now let’s deal with it.”

thrillax (v.): to do something both stimulating and relaxing. Word Spy, collector of neologisms, spotted this one being used to describe things like physically demanding vacations, e.g. a “tennis holiday.” The verb is, obviously, a portmanteau of thrill and relax, much like chillax was before it. There is also grillaxing — spending some restful time at a barbecue. NewsFeed anticipates that people will next embrace swillaxing as a term for social drinking. You know the type: “Come on bro. Just swillax a bit. Got a Natty Light with your name on it.”

treacle-cutter (n., slang): in the television industry, a joke used in a sitcom at the end of a sentimental or serious scene to remind viewers it’s still a comedy. GQ includes this in a brief roundup of industry terms from different workplaces–the TV writers’ room, the ER, the dark bowels of your office building where the IT folks work. (Treacle, by the way,  is like molasses — a sappy substance.) It’s not, however, a new word: “treacle-cutter” was coined as early as 1958, when it was used by TV comic Danny Thomas in an interview with TIME Magazine.

LIST: Top 10 TV Offices We Want to Work In