Wednesday Words: Making Vocabulary Fun Since, Well, Today

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Welcome to the inaugural, weekly highlight of the vocabulary of our lives — including useful, new, hilarious and surprising words (as well as some that are just fun to roll off the ole tongue).

Best retro verb: to be slimed

This gem, referring to the surprise, televised dumping of green goo all over an unsuspecting individual, resurfaced during Nickelodeon’s Annual Kids’ Choice Awards on April 2. As Miley Cyrus accepted her award for favorite movie actress, she thanked the crowd for not “sliming” her, as her achy-breaky father metaphorically did when he started gabbing to the press last month about how Hannah Montana “destroyed” his family.

Other usages: This verb might also be useful for women attempting to describe what it was like to be hit on by an unwanted, unsavory suitor.

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Most succinct review: “Subpar”

This was the single word Anthony Gabow, a Detroit-area man, used to describe his experience at the first stop on Charlie Sheen’s Violent Torpedo of Stuff That Will Probably Make You Dumber For Listening To It Tour (or whatever it’s called). His choice descriptor, by connoting things reserved and refined, has the added advantage of furthering disparaging something that was unpleasantly tawdry.

Things it would be similarly funny to describe with this word: a strip club’s ambiance, T-shirt selection at a gas station, anything deep-fried

Field you probably haven’t heard of: Atomic forensics

These scientists came to the fore during the constant reports about Japan’s nuclear reactors. The discipline works on principles that allowed scientists to weigh in on the status of Japan’s power plant problems from remote locations, “turning scraps of information into detailed analyses.”

Other usages: Good candidate to replace rocket science in self-deprecating remarks and/or sarcastic comparisons, depending on the tone. As in, “Well, it’s not exactly atomic forensics, is it, Einstein?”

Most unbelievable job title: Maternity concierge

Just when you thought reality TV had exhausted its outrageousness, here comes Pregnant in Heels, a Bravo show following the life of Rosie Pope, whose “maternity concierge” service helps affluent mothers deal with nine months of their human condition. (The show premiered Tuesday night a 10 p.m. EST.) Pope also has a high-end maternity fashion line, from which one can purchase items like the $695 preggers-friendly “Oscar Dress.”

Positions we hope to see as part of her service: breast-milk sommelier, carriage chaffeur, bib stylist

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Oh-so-clever neologism: eglu

Meaning, “what makes your tongue stick to an ice cube,” eglu (pronounced like igloo — nudge, nudge) is an example of the kind of word you’ll find in The Style Invitational’s most recent wordplay contest, entitled “bringing up the rear.” In case you haven’t guessed the rule, new terms are made by taking the last letter of the word, moving it to the front of the word and then defining the new term.

Submissions NewsFeed is considering: Egaz! (gaze): an exclamation used upon discovering someone staring at you. St-hank (thanks): a past tense form of to stink which connotes a smell that was particularly offensive and for which one is anything but grateful.

Slang term people should start using: snollygoster

This word means “a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician,” and in terms of being fun to say, it’s right up there with brouhaha and flim-flam. It may have some connection to the Maryland snallygaster, a mythical monster supposedly part reptile and part bird, designed to terrify ex-slaves out of voting. Individuals who might have qualified as snollygosters in their day: Benedict Arnold, Richard Nixon, Iago (from either Othello or Aladdin)

Sources: USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, Green’s Dictionary of Slang

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