Do you ever hear yourself saying ‘There’s a word for that!’ and catch yourself mentally grasping for the correct term? I know the feeling. It’s infuriating. A new word is added to our language approximately every two hours. Every year, the English language grows to the tune of 400 new words. As our language evolves and expands, our lexicon becomes flooded with so many new words it seems impossible to keep up. There are a few, however, that might come in quite handy to keep up your sleeve… Who knows when you’ll next be called upon to show off your lexical range?
Here are few of my favourite linguistic offerings of our modern age.
This term was coined by Gelett Burgess, and is so-named after the sedative effects of potassium-bromide. Unsurprisingly, bromide language is clichéd and predictable. In other words, it’s tedious and yawn-inducing – and uttered by tedious, yawn-inducing people. Admit it – someone you know springs to mind.
The politician’s language of choice, camouflanguage is a portmanteau word and is used to describe language that is euphemistic, relies on jargon, and is generally designed to hide the truth of what is actually being said. If you’re aware of camouflanguage being used, then it has been singularly unsuccessful…
This is another portmanteau word (and have you noticed how common these are becoming?) and refers to words whose meaning – and sometimes pronunciation – changes when it is fronted with a capital letter. The months of March and August are prime examples: there is no requirement to march in March or adopt an august disposition in August. Other examples include polish and Polish – confuse them at your peril.
The spies among you will already be familiar with this. It’s simply a codename. Think 007. You won’t be surprised to learn that this is yet another portmanteau word, derived from the Greek words for ‘hidden’ and ‘name’. One of the best-known examples is Operation Overlord, the codename for the Allied invasion of German-occupied Western Europe during World War II.
Like its suffix soulmates, diarrhoea and gonorrea, the outcome of this one is rarely pretty. Originally used to describe the manic phase of bipolar disorder, logorrhoea refers to the excessive use of words - especially verbally. The title of this blog, perhaps…
A stump word is any word that has been cut short, such as ‘gym’ or ‘ad’. Rather like a tree that’s been felled. Is there any need?
Pubilect is a form of teenage code. It consists of terms like ‘24/7’ and ‘chill’. And they’re just the ones we’re familiar with. It boasts a whole range of words and phrases that no one over the age of sixteen – or not ‘down with the kids’ – can understand any more than we can Klingon. What?! You’ve never heard of it?! Duh!
So there you have it. Throw these weird and wonderful words into conversations when the fancy takes you to appear pompous. Or simply roll your eyes at what the world is coming to.
By Amanda Ellison
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash