Wednesday Words: Surf Speak, Convention Vocabulary and More

NewsFeed's weekly highlight of our vocabulary includes useful, new and surprising words (as well as some that are just fun to say)

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David McGlynn

acq-hire (v.): to buy a company in order to absorb its human resources. This definition is adapted from a Visual Thesaurus piece by linguist Ben Zimmer. He traces the term to a 2005 blog post, which describes the act thusly: “When a large company ‘purchases’ a small company with no employees other than its founders, typically to obtain some special talent or a cool concept.” Kind of like when Christian Grey buys a Seattle publishing company so he can keep Anastasia Steele close. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

boudoir photography (n.): risqué images commissioned by a woman engaged to be married and given to her fiancé as a pre-wedding present. Vulture writer Kat Stoeffel touches on this fad in a post about the apparent next step: “morning-after photography,” like shots of entangled feet sticking out from under rumpled sheets. One wonders if future generations will even remember what privacy was.

surfonomics (n.): an offshoot of natural resource economics that seeks to quantify the worth of waves, both in terms of their value to surfers and businesses. This abbreviated definition comes from a Washington Post piece, in which Gregory Thomas details the rise of this new field. It’s always fun when phenomena we take for granted get the scientific treatment, like when researchers determined that men will spend their money like idiots if there aren’t sufficient women around. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

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omnishambles (n.): a situation or person who is a mess in every possible way. This is the newest gem picked up by neologism site Word Spy. Their lexicographer traces it back to a 2009 episode of a British television show called The Thick of It. Basically it’s a sophisticated-sounding term that identifies what one might otherwise call a [censored].

polysyndeton (n.): the use of a number of conjunctions in close succession. You know, words like and and but and or. This is a good term to have in your pocket in this height of convention season, when speeches are about as hard to come by as cotton clothing. Take this excerpt from First Lady Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention last night: “He just keeps getting up and moving forward,” she of her husband, “with patience and wisdom and courage and grace.” Polysyndeton all over the place.

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