Wednesday Words: Toe-besity, YOLO, Pleonexia and More

This week's must-adds for the discerning wordsmith's vocabulary.

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David McGlynn

inbox zero (n., slang): the state of having no emails. esp unread, in one’s inbox. According to Gizmodoinbox zero is often used as a taunt or slight among techies. One might imply that only the most pathetic, marginalized emailer could reach such a barren state–or one might brag about reaching inbox zero “explicitly to irritate colleagues one knows to be overburdened by email.”

toe-besity (n.): the condition of having fat or unattractive toes. A New York podiatrist named Dr. Oliver Zong told ABC News that more of his patients were seeking cosmetic toe surgery because they felt toe-bese, i.e. to be suffering from “toe-besity.” Though the story presents no evidence that the rare surgery is more widespread on the whole than reported in previous years, the adorable pun helped it go viral. We can just imagine the taunts that lead patients to the doctor’s office: “This little piggy went to market … This little piggy had gastric bypass surgery.”

pleonexia (n.): excessive covetousness, avarice or greed; an inordinate desire for more than one’s share. In a review of Joseph Stiglitz’ new book–The Price of Inequality–the Guardian‘s Yvonne Roberts opens with the definition of pleonexia. It’s useful vocab–whether you’re describing bitterness over executive pay, resentment of the Great Society or the cause of a messy birthday-cake dispute.

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YOLO (acronym): the initial letters of “you only live once”; expressing the need to make the most of the present. This modern-era carpe diem can be found flooding social media, in song lyrics and on the hands of deep actors who want to remind themselves to “seize the day!” Many use it ironically, as in, “Soaking gummy bears in vodka. Then handing them out to children. #YOLO.” And Collins Dictionary just announced that its editors are considering YOLO, often written yolo, for inclusion in their online dictionary.

BFD (acronym): the initial letters of “big f***ing deal”; expressing importance and cause for excitement. Vice President Joe Biden (in)famously described health care reform as a BFD. Team Obama has now appropriated the acronym on campaign t-shirts that read “Health Reform: Still A BFD.” (The DNC was there first.) Given that it’s being used on presidential gear, Slate‘s Brian Palmer questions whether BFD could become “the next LOL.” And his answer is probably not. “If BFD stays linked to the health care reform bill, its life could be very short indeed,” he predicts. “If, however, people begin referring to final exams, playoff football games, and their parents’ divorces as BFDs, then it will last.” In other words, BFD will be a BFD.

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