Wednesday Words: Empretzeled Politicians, Hybrid Gangs 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

FOMO (acronym): the initial letters of “fear of missing out”; expressing concern about being deprived of an opportunity. It seems like telling someone “YOLO” is playing on their FOMO, a fun-to-say acronym included in a recent update for a college slang dictionary. Attention music producers: “FOMO” also sounds like it could be a hit rap song supporting Obama for a second term.

empretzel (v.): to change or adapt to while appearing to conform to expected ideals. This is a favorite verb of TIME’s political columnist Joe Klein; he’s even the source Merriam-Webster cites alongside the above definition. It’s a useful word to have in your pocket when attempting to describe politicians’ acrobat-like attempts to please everyone. Klein invoked it to describe a certain presidential candidate in a recent post about a controversial political ad. Hint: The anagram of his first and last name is “weirdly normal.”*

(MORE: Bus Tour Re-Energizes Romney–and His Case Against Obama)

sidequel (n.): a creative work that is produced after another completed work and shares the same fictional setting, but with unrelated plots and new characters. In a post about last weekend’s box office action, The Playlist‘s Gabe Toro labels The Bourne Legacy as a sidequel, “for utilizing the series’ mythology while creating its own.” Legacy comes after hit-man thrillers The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Up next: The Bourne High School Reunion. 

luxury tax (n., slang): in basketball, a penalty paid by a team when they exceed the salary cap determined by the National Basketball Association. In a post about the L.A. Lakers upcoming season, Bleacher Report’s Josh Vannuccini explains the implications of the luxury tax–i.e. money you have to pay if you pay people too much money. “Not only does this ensure competitive balance to an extent,” he writes, “but it is the first roadblock in overspending.” The L.A. Lakers’ salaries total nearly $100 million, far above the cap, which means they’ll have to pay almost $30 million to the NBA in penalties.

hybrid gang (n.): a non-traditional gang with multiple affiliations, often fluid in size and structure with multi-gender, multi-ethnic members. Fans of actively creepy rap group Insane Clown Posse, who are commonly known as  Juggalos, took offense when the FBI labeled them as a hybrid gang in an annual assessment. And at a recent gathering, the members of the I.C.P. announced plans to sue the FBI on their behalf. Because they might be clowns, but anti-Juggalo discrimination is no joke.

*Second hint: This politician goes by his middle name. 

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