Wednesday Words: Pink Slime, Brokered Conventions 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

Techie compromise: phablet

Yes, my first instinct was also to think that a “phablet” was a super-phat tablet, as in “Someone call the police because that tablet is KILLING it.” But a phablet is in fact a very big phone (or a very small tablet, depending on how you look at it) that has features from both worlds. Some less economical speakers also call these “tabletophones.” In any case, companies are trying to grow this class of oversized texting devices; brands like Samsung and LG are prime to capitalize on those poor, conflicted souls who just can’t decide between getting an iPad or iPhone.

Censorship circumventer: Grass-Mud Horse lexicon

In a recent Atlantic article, Rebecca Greenfield investigated the slang that some Chinese bloggers are using to elude (and mock) The Censorship Man, which the bloggers have dubbed the Grass-Mud Horse lexicon because it “sounds nearly the same in Chinese as ‘f*** your mother’.” Examples include “love the future,” a reference to dissident artist Ai Weiwei; and “getting soy sauce,” a coded way to back away from a sensitive topic. This might be a fun one to start using in English. Did you finish your work? Do you want to go on another date? Is that your real hair? “Pardon me, I really need to get some soy sauce.”

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Meaty term: pink slime

Reporters have been all over “pink slime” lately, which is “highly processed ‘lean finely textured beef’ which is made from low grade meat scraps spritzed with ammonia gas.” According to ABC, about 70% of the meat at the supermarket contains this filler, which truly is beef—just inferior beef. Pink slime comes from leftover chunks, which is made super-lean and then often added to less lean meat to bring the fat percentage down. According to the AP, “pink slime” was coined by a federal microbiologist who was “grossed out” by the stuff, and the off-putting term became a natural fit for all-natural food advocates and the like. Hot dogs—those delicious, maligned meat mixtures—must be glad to have some ignominious company.

Demographic group: the boomerang generation

Pew recently released a study of the 25- to 34-year-olds who have hopped back in bed with Mom and Dad during the Great Recession, at least figuratively. These members of the so-called “boomerang generation” have moved home and are cool about what is stereotypically an admittance of failure, saying that they’re satisfied with their living conditions and upbeat about their futures. According to Pew, nearly half of them are paying rent now that they’ve returned. One hopes that Those Whose Bore Them are at least giving the kids a family discount.

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Political parlance: brokered convention

This is a term that has been cropping up evermore among political pundits, and it won’t stop unless a Republican presidential candidate gets 1,144 delegates before the convention in Tampa this summer. A “brokered” convention becomes possible when no candidate secures the majority of delegates (in this cycle, one more than half of the 2,286 available) through the state primaries and caucuses, and the eventual nominee must gain them through bloc-bargaining, horse-trading and cajoling at the convention itself. In that case, the runners-up might be able to trade their delegates for top speaking spots, administrations positions or the inclusion of their ideas in the party platform. So the underdogs in this race are, of course, insisting that brokerage will occur, while Mitt Romney, the tepid front-runner, will hope that he seals the darn deal before August.