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Keeping up with today’s English

Moseyin’ Along

September 5, 2012
By Joyce Schenk - COLUMNIST ( , Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

As a writer, I've long been a "lexiphile" - that's a fancy name for someone who is fascinated by words. And, since words are my stock in trade, I continually try to keep up with the ongoing changes taking place in our English language.

There was a time, many years ago, when I thought our mother tongue had incorporated all the changes that would ever be needed for clear communication. An English professor set me straight when he said, "The language will never stop growing. Year by year, new words will be added and out-dated ones will be discarded. English is a living entity."

Anyone who reads newspapers or watches television can attest to the truth of his statement. These days, you almost need a current dictionary to understand modern English.

In an effort to help us oldsters decipher these new additions to the language, the American Association of Retired Persons, or AARP, recently organized a list of 50 new words that have been added to the world's top English dictionaries. I'm trying to become familiar with as many of these as possible for two reasons. First, I want to be able to understand what I read and hear in the media. And second, I'm trying to impress my younger friends with my up-to-date vocabulary.

Here are some of the entries in the AARP's collection of new English terms you might want to consider incorporating into your conversations, too.

"Automagically" refers to something that occurred automatically in a way that seemed magical. As in, "After I ate that quarter pounder and fries, my bathroom scale automagically recorded my fall from the diet wagon."

Then there's "bargainous," which means costing less than expected. "When I visited the Goodwill store, I found it filled with a wide variety of bargainous items."

"Catastrophize" refers to the presentation of a situation as worse than it is. "The politician said election of his opponent would catastrophize the nation's future."

"Overleveraged" means having taken on too much debt. "I think charging that new Porsche to my Visa card might have overleveraged my account."

"Truthiness" refers to the quality of seeming true. "The Senator's truthiness turned out to be a case of smoke and mirrors."

"Chillax" is to calm down and relax. "After the Olympics, Michael Phelps decided it was time for him to chillax."

"Staycation" is a vacation spent at home. "With the soaring price of gas, the Smiths decided to take a staycation this summer."

"Cheeseball" denotes lacking in taste or style. "The fashion-conscious critic considered the actress' matching fake zebra-skin purse and spike heels were cheeseball choices."

"Sheeple" are unquestioning followers, a combination of sheep and people. "The rock star was always surrounded by a group of teen-aged sheeple."

"Hater" designates a very negative person. "No matter how good life was going for him, Irving continued to be a chronic hater."

"Rock" means to do something in a confident and flamboyant way. "When it comes to cooking, Angela rocks."

"Bromance" is a close platonic male friendship. "Dan and Rick had known each other since grade school and had a long-standing bromance."

"Gal pal" stands for a female friend. "Sherri and Julie had been gal pals for years."

With this list of up-to-date words, whether you're out on a bromantic date or spending time with your best gal pal, you'll automagically wow your friends by trotting out these new and meaningful additions to today's English.



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