Wednesday Words: Hoodies, Cockneys and ‘Chipteases’

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

Neat-o neologism: “chiptease”

Connie Eble, a University of North Carolina professor and one of the country’s leading slang gurus, has long collected neologisms from college students. And one of the terms she discovered this year was “chiptease,” as in the “disappointing discovery that a bag of chips contains fewer chips than the size of the bag would [suggest].” She noted that the term was likely too specific to last—the best slang is adaptable, like all creatures. Still, it’s about time someone gave linguistic form to that sinking feeling, to that cruel experience of popping open a bag only to be greeted with a great puff of starchy wind and a sad, salty pile of broken dreams. Of course, chip-makers have all the Cheetos, so there’s not much we can do, but it’s nice to have the vocab all the same.

Cockney cant: brown bread

According to a recent survey by the Museum of London, Cockney rhyming slang is on the way out, or as many papers noted, may be “brown bread.” As in dead. While Cockney talk may forever be a rich part of London’s history, the survey found that less complicated slang like text speak is replacing the elaborate, semi-sensical rhyming lexicon. Some more popular slang words among British kids today, the survey of 2,000 found, are OMG (Oh, my god), totes (totally), obvs (obviously) and amazeballs (really amazing). Not exactly sophisticated or underground stuff, but it’s better than a punch in the boat race.

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Symbolic sportswear: hoodie

The killing of black teenager Trayvon Martin has become synonymous with a fabled item of American clothing: the hoodie, which Martin was wearing when he was shot. Protesters are still ogranizing “Hoodie Marches,” Howard University produced a hoodie-centric “Am I Suspicious?” video, and lawmakers are sporting solidarity hoodies in their chambers. Below is a chart showing how the use of the word hoodie has exploded in news articles recently:

Google Insights

The Oxford English Dictionary added “hoodie,” as slang for a hooded garment, to its pages in 2005, about 70 years after Champion produced the first hooded sweatshirts for sports teams and workers in its chilly New York state factories. In 2007, the OED added British slang for the word, meaning hooligan, a young person who typically wears a hoodie and is socially disruptive. Meanwhile the garb became associated with marginal characters like Rocky Balboa and the hip-hop community. And, at least for now, hoodie will carry a stronger racial charge; it’s a one-word rally cry for those who believe Americans are dangerously easy with stereotypes.

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