Wednesday Words: Steven Tyler-isms, Vampire Squids and Pringles

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Welcome to NewsFeed’s 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 old tongue).

Best saying used by Steven Tyler this week: to be all hat and no cattle

This expression, meaning that someone talks awfully big and can’t back it up, was used by Steven Tyler during the most recent judging on American Idol, and is further proof that there’s just no anticipating what will come out of his signature mouth. He said he worried that country-style singer Scotty McCreery might have been all hat when he came out singing Elvis but that, thankfully, he had the cattle to back it up.

Other items in the Steven Tyler lexicon: Breaking into Spanish mid-song equates to “ethnic what-it-is-ness.” Wearing giant stars atop one’s breasts in auditions is known as having “jujubes on your ooh-ooh-bees.” Sometimes a singer is described as “a cool dude in a loose mood.” (Still not totally sure what that means.)

(More on Judging American Idol‘s final 9 contestants)

Sassy made-up term of the week: medi-GONE

Railing against Republican proposals to change Medicaid, government health insurance for the poor, an upset Democratic legislator took to the House floor and bellowed that under the plan, “Medicare is medi-GONE!” NewsFeed presumes this term is the past tense form of the verb to medi-go.

The old switcheroo: Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan uses a well-established trick here — replacing part of a word in order to make a new nonsense word that expresses badness. Other examples include Billy Madison’s famous science-class objection, “Chlorophyll? More like bore-ophyll!” and “Look at that weave. Talk about a hair-don’t!” (cue high fives with catty entourage)

(More on Will Congress play along with spending cuts?)

Most surprisingly divisive adjective: flake-formed

News broke this past week that Pringles is being bought from Proctor & Gamble for $1.5 billion dollars (the sale being proof that once you pop, you actually can stop). In the Wall Street Journal article discussing the deal, the authors revisited one of history’s greatest debates: Whether Pringles are, in fact, potato chips. “The fried snacks, which are made with dehydrated potato flakes, drew a suit from other chip makers, demanding the flake-formed snacks not be called chips,” they explained.

Other things people could spend money to debate in court: whether tomatoes are fruits, whether veggie burgers are indeed burgers, whether Four Loko is a beverage (or better classified as rocket fuel)

(More on Did you know the inventor of Pringles was buried in a Pringles can?)

Nickname back in the news: “vampire squid”

This term, used to describe heartless corporations (particularly big banks, and especially Goldman Sachs), resurfaced this week in book reviews of William D. Cohan’s Money and Power, discussions of the Wall Street mentality, and nuns’ objections to executive pay. (That’s right, nuns.) It comes from a Rolling Stone article in which Matt Taibbi describes GS thusly: “The world’s most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”

Extra squid info: In case you didn’t know, the vampire squid is a real animal. It has eerily piercing blue eyes, a magenta body and the ability to turn itself inside out to avoid predators. You can watch the latter here. (Do not do this while eating.)

NewsFeed Neologism: homofauxne

Quick review: a normal homophone is a word that sounds the same as another but is spelled differently (like heir and air). Our new term, created right here at NewsFeed, has a similar meaning: a word in which faux, the French term for false, replaces something that it rhymes with but that otherwise sounds like the root word.

Some of the many, many words that have made this term necessary: There are fauxmosexuals, people who give every appearance of being gay but turn out to be straight (Anne Heche). If you want to speak disparagingly of hipsters, you can call them fauxhemians. There are fake Oreos, used to trick kids into thinking they’re eating junk food, called Faux-reos. And there is, of course, the fauxhawk, that mohawk-like hairdo that David Beckham made so famous.

(More on Watch David Beckham’s amazing trick shot)