Wednesday Words: Absolutism, Ombré and More

NewsFeed's weekly highlight of our vocabulary: humans say the darnedest things.

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David McGlynn

counter-conventional relationship (n.): a heterosexual relationship in which the female is the primary earner. 

A study from the University of Indianapolis has shown that women, whether they were bringing home the bacon on not, still did the majority of housework. Researchers focused on households of unmarried couples—proving that even tradition-bucking females may still be left holding the sponge like their forebears.

purebred (adj., slang): a homosexual male who has never had sexual intercourse with a female.

In an interview with Girls star Andrew Rannells, New York Magazine uncovered this term. “I personally have never had sex with a woman,” he told them. “I’m more of what you call gold-star gay. I’m purebred.” One assumes the bisexual community does not consider themselves plucky mutts.

absolutism (n.): absence of relativism, ambiguity, equivocation, changeableness.

“Obama wants to turn the idea of absolutism into a dirty word, just another word for extremism,” National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said on Tuesday. His statement was a response to a line from Obama’s inauguration speech on Monday: “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle.” And so Washington’s endless struggle of “to compromise, or not to compromise” raged on.

ombré (adj.): having color tones graduating from light to dark, usually giving a striped effect.

Get out your do-it-yourself bleaching kits, ladies. It appears that ombre hair, which often goes from dark to light, is a new trend. The word comes from the French verb ombrer, meaning “to shade.”

cliff (n., slang): a foreseeable decrease in government funding.

We all know about the fiscal cliff. But the Washington Post points out that the word is being picked up more broadly and may even become the next “-gate.” The expiration of milk subsidies became the “dairy cliff,” Emily Heil writes, and the argument over the debt ceiling could easily be dubbed the “deficit cliff.” Less likely is a crisis among the Congressional Boating Caucus that leads to a “skiff cliff,” though there is hope that a medical marijuana controversy could bring on a “spliff cliff.”