Wednesday, November 05, 2014

The joy of new words

Much of the joy of writing comes from shopping from the hundreds of thousands of words that English makes available, and it’s good to remember that each of them was a neologism in its day. The new entries in AHD 5* are a showcase for the linguistic exuberance and recent cultural history of the Anglosphere: Abrahamic, air rage, amuse-bouche, backward-compatible, brain freeze, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, camel toe, community policing, crowdsourcing, Disneyfication, dispensationalism, dream catcher, earbud, emo, encephalization, farklempt, fashionista, fast-twitch, Goldilocks zone, grayscale, Grinch, hall of mirrors, hat hair, heterochrony, infographics, interoperable, Islamofascism, jelly sandal, jiggy, judicial activism, ka-ching, kegger, kerfuffle, leet, liminal, lipstick lesbian, manboob, McMansion, metabolic syndrome, nanobot, neuroethics, nonperforming, off the grid, Onesie, overdiagnosis, parkour, patriline, phish, quantum entanglement, queer theory, quilling, race-bait, recursive, rope-a-dope, scattergram, semifreddo, sexting, tag-team, time-suck, tranche, ubuntu, unfunny, universal Turing machine, vacuum energy, velociraptor, vocal percussion, waterboard, webmistress, wetware, Xanax, xenoestrogen, x-ray fish, yadda yadda yadda, yellow dog, yutz, Zelig, zettabyte, zipline If I were allowed to take just one book to the proverbial desert island, it might be a dictionary.\

Stephen Pinker, in The Sense of Style, page 56 (Kindle edition)

*The American Heritage Dictionary: 5th edition. 
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