Welcome to Wednesday Words, a weekly column that delves into the way we wag our tongues and wield our pens. This week NewsFeed explains catchy words that have been in the news, ranging from the roads of New Jersey to the front lines in Afghanistan:
oversharent (v.): to excessively share information about one’s child, especially online.
A TIME article asks parents—particularly the growing class of “mommy bloggers” who peddle their children in their posts—to consider whether they might be guilty of “oversharenting.” The root of the term is to overshare, meaning to reveal an inappropriate level of detail about one’s life. See: Alex Trebek talking about how his pets have died.
jughandle (n., slang): a system of facilitating left turns and U-turns by guiding drivers to a right-hand exit and then along an auxiliary road shaped like the handle of a jug.
If you still feel turned around, take a moment to examine the photo at left or to watch this low-budget yet enlightening video. Jughandles are most common in New Jersey–so common that they’re called “Jersey lefts.” Bruce Springsteen‘s “Wrong Side of the Street” even has lyrics that could double as a love song to jughandles. (“Fear and desire, such a sweet confusion.”) But one state lawmaker has proposed a bill that would ban jughandles from the Garden State, because they are overly confusing for visitors. The measure is getting traction.
black money (n.): counterfeit currency used in a scam in which swindlers claim to have painted the bills black to elude authorities.
Sometimes local news just tells it best. From CBS in the suburbs of Philadelphia: “Attorney General Jeff Chiesa says [two men] claimed to have smuggled hundreds of thousands of dollars out of their native Liberia by painting it black and promised to share it if the alleged victim would loan them money to buy the chemicals needed to clean it off.” NewsFeed awards the perpetrators top marks for originality, though it is likely little consolation to them in Camden County prison.
brass ceiling (n.): an intangible barrier within military and law enforcement fields that prevents women from obtaining certain positions.
Pundits described the figurative barrier between women and combat zones as the “brass ceiling” until that prohibition was recently lifted by the Pentagon. (Senior officers in the U.S. military have been slangily referred to as “brass,” a reference to their brass or gold insignia, since the 1800s.) In business, the barrier between women and upper-level positions is, of course, the glass ceiling, while the relative dearth of females in comedy has been labeled the “crass ceiling.”
modesty committee (n.): a self-appointed community group that uses social and economic leverage to enforce conformity.
The New York Times reports that self-appointed members of the local Hasidic Jewish community are policing the streets of neighborhoods in Brooklyn, making sure mannequins in storefronts leave plenty to the imagination. “In the close-knit world of ultra-Orthodox Judaism, community members know the modesty rules,” writes Joseph Berger. “The rules are spoken and unspoken, enforced by social pressure but also, in ways that some find increasingly disturbing, by the modesty committees.”