I learned to speak and write English when I was about twenty-one years old so English has never been a language I use naturally. In fact, it is one of the most difficult language to learn — if you step away from the basics. It has a lot of subtlety, derivations from other languages, turn of phrases that are difficult to master. Prepositions, and their use, have been, and continue to be, a challenge. Some words are similar (lay, lie) others are grammatically confusing (their, there; its, it’s).
Confusing Words is a website that helps with those challenges. It boasts over 3200 words and their definition and use. Here is an example from one of my own confusion:
||to go with
||to come with
|Bring a covered dish when you come to the pot luck supper, but be sure to take your dish home with you when you go.
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This year’s best words, in which people are asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition:
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an ah.
3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation a bout yourself for the purpose of getting lucky
7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
9. Inoculatte: To take coffee! intravenously when you are running late.
10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
12. Karmageddon: It’s when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, and then the Earth explodes, and it’s a serious bummer.
13. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you
14. Glibido: All talk and no action.
15. Dopeler effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
16. Arachnoleptic fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosqui t o, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
18. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.
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The American Dialect Society (founded in 1889) voted “subprime“ as the word of the year for 2007.
Subprime is an adjective used to describe a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment. Subprime was also winner of a brand-new 2007 category for real estate words, a category which reflects the preoccupation of the press and public for the past year with a deepening mortgage crisis.
Contrary to the Academie FranÃ§aise, the Dialect Society, comprised of lots of word people such as linguists, librarians, writers, and grammarians, do not judge whether a word should enter the English language. They simply note the appearance of a “new word” that is being used often and in different ways. For instance, a worker would say “I subprimed that project”, meaning that it came out less than best. Here are some other words the ADS felt were worthy of mention, with the number of votes for each word:
WORD OF THE YEAR
- WINNER subprime, an adjective used to describe a risky or lessthan ideal loan, mortgage, or investment. 79
- green- prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as in greenwashing. 9
- surge an increase in troops in a war zone. 1
- Facebook all parts of speech. 11
- waterboarding an interrogation technique in which the subject is immobilized and doused withwater to simulate drowning. 1
- GooglegÃ¤nger A person with your name who shows up when you google yourself. 7
- wide stance, to have a To be hypocritical or to express two conflicting points of view. When Senator Larry Craig was arrested in a public restroom and accused of making signals with hisfoot that police said meant he was in search of a anonymous sex, Craig said it was a misunderstanding and that he just had a wide stance when using the toilet. 2
- WINNER green- prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as in greenwashing. 43/59
- bacn Impersonal email such as alerts, newsletters, and automated reminders that are nearly as annoying as spam but which one has chosen to receive. 14
- celebu- prefix Indicates celebrity, as in celebutard. 13
- connectile dysfunction Inability to gain or maintain a connection. 5
- wrap rage Anger brought on by the frustration of trying to open a factory-sealed purchase. 39/55
- WINNER GooglegÃ¤nger Person with your name who shows up when you google yourself. 84
- boom An instance of a military explosion in the phrases left of boom, which describes the US military’s efforts to root out insurgents before they do harm, and right of boom, which describes efforts to minimize attacks with better equipment, systems, and medical care. 1
- lolcat On the Internet, an odd or funny picture of a cat given a humorous and intentionally ungrammatical caption in large block letters. From LOL + cat. 20
- tapafication The tendency of restaurants to serve food in many small portions, similar to tapas. 4 Ã³
- WINNER Happy Kwanhanamas! [Kwanza + Hanukka + Christmas] Happy holidays! 63
- ruther Someone who espouses a conspiracy theory about the events of 9/11. 5
- vegansexual A person who eats no meat, uses no animal-derived goods, and who prefers not to ave sex with non-vegans. 35
- WINNER toe-tapper A homosexual. Senator Larry Craig was arrested in June for an encounterin a public restroom in which toe-tapping was said to have been used as a sexual come-on. 70
- nappy-headed ho An expression used on the Don Imus radio show, and repeated by the host,about the women’s basketball team at Rutgers University. 27
- make it rain To drop paper money on a crowd of people, especially in strip clubs, nightclubs, or casinos. 2
- WINNER human terrain team A group of social scientists employed by the US military toserve as cultural advisers in Iraq or Afghanistan. 60
- shmashmortion/smushmortion Abortion. 8
- va-j-j Also va-jay-jay or vajayjay The vagina. 30
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
- WINNER green- prefix/compounding form Designates environmental concern, as ingreenwashing. 70
- global weirding An increase in severe or unusual environmental activity often attributed toglobal warming. This includes freakish weather and new animal migration patterns. 3
- Super-Duper Tuesday Feb. 5th, the day 23 US states will hold primary elections. Also knownas Tsunami Tuesday. 1
- wide stance, to have a To be hypocritical or to express two conflicting points of view. WhenSenator Larry Craig was arrested in a public restroom and accused of making signals with hisfoot that police said meant he was in search of a anonymous sex, Craig said it was amisunderstanding and that he just had a wide stance when using the toilet. 13
- locavore someone who eats food that is grown or produced locally. Nominated by Dick Bailey.13
- texter a person who sends text messages. 5
LEAST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
- WINNER strand-in Protest duplicating being stranded inside an airplane on a delayed flight.31/74
- Billary/Hill-Bill Bill and Hillary Clinton. 1
- earmarxist A congressman or senator who adds earmarks–money designated for a particular person or group–to legislation. Coined by the blog Redstate to refer to Democrats. 32/2
- quadriboobage The appearance of having four breasts caused by wearing a brassiere that is too small. 40/19
NEW CATEGORY: REAL ESTATE/MORTGAGE/LOAN WORDS
- WINNER subprime Used to describe a risky or poorly documented loan or mortgage. 65
- exploding ARM An Adjustable Rate Mortgage whose rates soon rise beyond a borrowerÃs abilityto pay. 10
- liar’s loan/liar loan Money borrowed from a financial institution under false pretenses,especially in the form of a Ã¬stated incomeÃ® or Ã¬no-docÃ® loan which can permit a borrower toexaggerate income. 1
- NINJA No Income, No Job or Assets. A poorly documented loan made to a high-risk borrower.34
- scratch and dent loan A loan or mortgage that has become a risky debt investment, especially one secured with minimal documentation or made by a borrower who has missed payments. 2
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