Merriam Webster – we’re not sure if it’s two people or just someone with a weird first name – recently released a list of new words added to their dictionary for 2015. We’d like to tell you that these will be exciting and innovative additions to your vocabulary, but actually they’re kind of confusing.
For instance, “photobomb” is a new entry. Now the word may be relatively new, but the concept is as old as photography. I’m speaking, of course, of the earliest form of photo-bombing, the two-fingered “bunny ears” that can be found in even the oldest albums of black & white photographs. In those days if you did it to your brother in his birthday snapshot, you might get a stern talking-to from Dad about how much film and development cost, not to mention those blue spot flashbulbs. If you did it to grandma you were going to hell and if you did it to Sister Othelia in the class picture, you’d have to fake your own funeral and set off rafting down the Mon. Some researchers claim to have found evidence of painted-over bunny ears on the Mona Lisa, and one of the mastodons in the cave art at Lascaux seems to be sporting a pair. I am only making up some of this.
Another new coinage is a ladies’ garment known as “jeggings.” These are supposed to be leggings made to look like blue jeans with fake pockets and belt loops. Whether they’re leggings or jeggings, their distinguishing characteristic is that they are skin tight. Here’s our question: if the ones that look like jeans are jeggings, and the ones that don’t are leggings, what the heck are yoga pants? Also, as a guy from an era when girls wore poodle skirts to school, it must be nearly impossible for the average high school boy to concentrate on geometry.
As if on cue, “twerk” entered the language, helpfully furnishing something besides yoga to do in one’s leggings and/or jeggings. Twerking is something you probably would have gotten arrested for in the Idler’s youth, and even today, if you brought your new girlfriend home to meet the folks, you wouldn’t want her to demonstrate her twerking proficiency for Mom. Dad might be a different story.
“Eggcorn” is an interesting entry, though, since our local lingo is fairly crawling with the things. An eggcorn is a word that is similar in sound or pronunciation to the right word, and is mistakenly substituted for it. (Eggcorn / acorn, get it?) For example, the phrase “buck naked” has been around for hundreds of years, but if you stopped 10 people on the street and asked them for a descriptive word for naked, 9 of them would say “butt.” We’ve become fans of the local usage. Since all woodland creatures go around unclothed, why single out the male deer? Plus, if your hindquarters are undraped, it’s safe to assume that the rest of you is in a comparable condition, so let us be the first to propose “butt naked” for inclusion in the next edition of the dictionary. We’re not sure if some other local favorites, “foop-ball” for football, and “pit-nik” for picnic actually qualify as eggcorns, but we’re not going to ring our hands or start naval-gazing about it. I mean, there’s no need to run rough-shot over the language, but as the Idler, we do want a chance to speak our peace. Baring in mind that we’re never going to win the pullet surprise or anything.
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