Wednesday Words: Weird Slurs, Olympics Slang 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 say).

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David McGlynn

wazzock (n.): a fool, esp. one who makes gross mistakes by negligence or incompetence. Mitt Romney didn’t have the happiest of holidays during his recent stint abroad. As his feet found their way into his mouth, papers in the United Kingdom anointed him with ignominious epithets–such as “Mitt the Twit” and “wazzock.” Outlets like the New Yorker then waxed on Mitt and the term’s meaning. According to Green’s Dictionary of Slang, “wazzocked” can also mean “drunk or intoxicated by a drug.” As in, “That wazzocked wazzock has bad ideas up the wazoo.”

Monday (n., slang): used by whites or other non-blacks as a hostile term of abuse or contempt for a black person. A black Boston Red Sox outfielder recently alleged that an off-duty police officer had called him “Monday.” An investigation ensued, and the officer was soon dismissed for making racist comments. This, of course, left sports media confused about how Monday, a seemingly innocuous day of the week, had become covert racial abuse. Language guru Ben Zimmer did his own investigation and traced the usage back to at least 2004, explaining that comedian Russell Peters later “put ‘Monday’ on the map” in a comedy routine about how “white people are getting real…clever with their racism.” The comedian’s reasoning: “Nobody likes Mondays.” Perhaps “Friday” seemed a bit too high-brow for their purposes.

(LIST: Top 10 Literary Sidekicks)

eggbeater (n., slang): in water polo, an alternating-leg kick used to keep the player steady above the water. Get ready to impress your friends. The Global Language Monitor recently put together a fun roundup of obscure Olympic lingo, including eggbeater. Other terms include nutmeg, a nickname for kicking the soccer ball through an opposing player’s legs; dead rubber, describing a tennis match where the outcome has already been decided by previous matches; and repechage–the most useful of the bunch–a name for an extra contest in which runners-up from eliminating contests are given another chance to compete for a place in the final.

manapé (n.): a canapé that is meant to appeal to men, both through ingredients and ease of preparation. So, apparently nobody told grocery chain Sainsbury’s that the man- prefix was so 2011. Director Mike Coupe recently introduced this term, according to Retail Week. A canapé is a small toast on which savories are served, and a manapé might be “mini-pies and sausages [that] are easy for blokes to prepare because a variety of them can all be put in the oven together to cook for the same length of time.” Who else wants to bet that the sweeping majority of manapé-preparers will actually be solicitous girlfriends?

stall speed (n.): in economics, the condition of an economy growing without that growth being assured or stable. Outlets such as the Chicago Tribune have been revisiting this term to describe the current state of the U.S. economy. “Any twinge of trouble,” their subhead reads, “could cause the engine to sputter.” In aviation, the stall speed is a speed below which a pilot may experience a sudden loss of altitude, and possibly control. A Boeing man might get more technical, discussing angles, acceleration and lift. Main point: An economy at “stall speed” is like a hippopotamus on roller skates–obviously less hilarious but in similar danger of tumbling.

MORE: U.S. Economic Growth Slows to 1.5% in Second Quarter