Wednesday Words: Bashtags, “Numb Nuts” and More

NewsFeed’s weekly highlight of our vocabulary includes useful, new, hilarious and surprising words (as well as some that are just fun to roll off the old tongue).

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David McGlynn

Twitter talk: bashtag

A bashtag is created when tweeters co-opt a promoted hashtag on Twitter and use it to make fun of the promoter. Writing about the phenomenon, Forbes’ Kashmir Hill uses the example of #McDStories, a tag McDonald’s promoted so that everyone could share the misty, water-colored memories they made over Big Macs. Instead McDonald’s inspired tweets like this: “You gave my sweet kindly aunt diabetes #McDStories.” The fast-food giant abandoned their venture, which had likely cost them more than $100,000, after two hours. In short, Mickey D’s was the one getting served this time around.

(MORE: CEO Comments on Twitter’s New Blocking Policy)

Making the world a softer place: pandaplomacy

When describing a book of panda photography released this month, the United Kingdom’s Independent revisited the notion of “pandaplomacy:” China’s use of their endangered, aww-inspiring indigenous creatures to relieve global tensions. In a December article, Independent writer Matthew Bell dug deep into the topic, explaining that the practice goes back to 1950s, when China lent pairs of the bears to friendly nations. NewsFeed suggests that the world also start using “puppyplomacy:” the practice of outfitting diplomats and world leaders with 8-week-old Golden Retrievers before they go into tense negotiations, thus keeping interlocutors more civil and amenable.

Popular pastime: Nickelback-bullying

Also being given a hard time, all the time, is Nickelback. Hating on the alternative-rock band has become a fad of its own; someone saying they hate Nickelback is about as surprising as someone saying they like sandwiches. But what is normally just that—Nickelback-hating—became Nickelbacking-bullying, as New York Magazine put it, when the band finally responded to comments like “listening to the radio when spice girls came on so I changed the station and it was nickelback…obvi the radio wants me to rip off my ears.” Over Twitter, the band fought back in-kind with snarky comments.

(MORE: Hate Nickelback? Watch What You Tweet)

Political epithet of the week: “numb nuts”

Oh, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. We can always count on you for a sassy sound bite. In testy negotiations over gay marriage this week, Christie got teste, as in testicles: during a statehouse news conference, he called an openly gay legislator “numb nuts” after said assemblyman compared Christie to segregationist governors of yore. (The governor has said he’ll veto a gay marriage bill and instead wants to put the issue up for a vote.)

Green’s Dictionary of Slang traces the use of numbnuts, meaning “idiot” when used as a term of address, back to 1969. The term is a natural evolution from the term numbhead, which has been in use since the 18th century. Perhaps it was updated to reflect discoveries about which organ men primarily use to do their thinking. Zing!

On the chopping block: drinking the Kool-Aid

Forbes has had it up to here with business jargon, like drinking the Kool-Aid, a verbal phrase used to suggest that someone has bought into a popular idea, product or ideology. This term is used outside the business world, of course, but it’s one of the many competitors the outlet has included in their Jargon Madness bracket—a competition to “to identify the single most annoying example of business jargon and thoroughly embarrass all who employ it.” Kool-Aid has advanced early and will face core competency in its second round of voting. The winner shall be decided on March 8. NewsFeed will reach out and touch base with readers to let them know the results. Also, let’s do lunch. My people will call your people.

(MORE: 10 Buzzwords to Take Off Your LinkedIn Profile Now)