Wednesday Words: Big-Bird Backtalk, Yellowism and More

NewsFeed's weekly highlight of words you should know

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David McGlynn

economic patriotism (n.): devotion to making financial choices that benefit one’s own country.

That is, at least, one definition. Democrats, particularly Barack Obama, have championed “economic patriotism” when speaking about loyalty to the middle class — or, in the case of former Gov. Ted Strickland, while illustrating how out-of-touch people with Swiss bank accounts are (read: Mitt Romney).

free-from (adj.): describing foods or drinks designed to exclude an ingredient, esp. for consumers who have an allergy or intolerance.

It could be gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free or nut-free. “Free-from” is becoming the catch-all shorthand for the growing market of specialized grub. The segment even has its own awards, designed to promote free-from foodstuffs. Good luck to the caterers taking care of that banquet.

esprit d’escalier (Fr., n.): witty repartee thought of too late.

During the first debate, Mitt Romney called out Big Bird while discussing publicly funded television, and Obama came back with a doozy — the next day. Pundits described his morning-after defense as esprit d’escalier. The French phrase is roughly translated as “wit of the staircase” — like the staircase you descend as you leave the place where you should have used your zinger.

(MORE: Why Is Mitt Romney Picking a Fight With Big Bird?)

crowd-fund (v.): to raise funds by soliciting small amounts from many sources.

This was the runner-up on the Detroit Free Press’s recent rundown of business buzzwords that will make you sound “cutting-edge.” Outfits like Kickstarter are Exhibit A for crowd-funding. Also on the list is BYOD, as in “bring your own device.” Yeah. That’s where we are now.

yellowism (n.): an artistic movement that rejects the label of ‘art’ and traditional exhibition spaces, often while incorporating the color yellow.

A “yellowist” recently defaced a Rothko painting in London with ramblings about “yellowism,” which led culture writers on a frustrating quest to find out what yellowism is. Do you find the proposed definition confusing? Well, try this quote from the defacer, Vladimir Umanets: “Yellowism is not art, and Yellowism isn’t anti-art. …it’s just Yellowism.” Thanks, Vladimir. This is the sort of thing that legitimizes the slur artsy-fartsy.

MORE: Rothko Painting Defaced By Homeless Man