Rosie Right 

Our language and how it works.

Vocabulary Update

Most words stay quietly in the background to be brought out when needed. Every now and then, some of them suddenly find themselves in constant use or joined with another to make a phrase. Here are a few of these that we now meet almost every day:

Articulate — unfortunately used by Sen. Biden to describe Barack Obama and perceived by many as a racist comment implying that most blacks are not articulate.

Hogwash — used by Vice President Cheney in his famous interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. When Blitzer asked Cheney about those who thought we had made mistakes and failed in Iraq, Cheney replied, "I don't accept the premise of your question. ... I just think it's hogwash." According to the Oxford English Dictionary, hogwash is either "the swill of a brewery or kitchen given to hogs" or "contemptously applied to weak inferior liquor or any worthless stuff." Now that Cheney has brought it to our attention, it's a good bet we will see it again.

George Allened — a new verb. According to Carrie Budoff at Politico.com: "In Republican campaign strategy sessions and conference calls, candidates and consultants are invoking Allen's name as a verb … and devising tactics to avoid a fate similar to that of the former Virginia Senator."

Plutoed — voted 2006 Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. "To pluto is to demote or devalue someone or something, as happened to the planet Pluto when the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union decided Pluto no longer met its definition of a planet." This choice of a winner for 2006 was a surprise; I would have bet a lot that macaca would be an easy choice.

Pretexting — Copy Editor newsletter tells us that the term means "the use of subterfuge (esp. impersonation) to get private information about a person."

Augumentation — Condi Rice's choice to substitute for escalation to describe the new effort in Iraq.

The decider — a very powerful person.


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