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Open Dictionary Word of the Month: marmalade dropper

© PHOTODISC207 new entries entered the Open Dictionary in March. This higher-than-usual total is due to the addition of over 100 BuzzWords culled from Kerry Maxwell‘s column of the same name. As its name suggests, the BuzzWord column focuses on the very latest linguistic novelties, and since the items added came from columns published in the Noughties I thought it would be interesting to look at some of them and see how well they have stood the test of time.

Many of the words relate to leisure: dark (or grief) tourism, slow travel and slow city; and to physical activities ranging from the home-based – exergaming – via the wacky – extreme ironing – to the downright intrepid: wing walking and cage diving.

Technology also figures prominently, as you might expect, with terms like click fraud, fat finger, googleganger and smart dust, not to mention textual harassment and technology butler – a hotel employee whose job is to look after the technology and help guests with computer-related problems.

Lifestyle terms include chocotherapy (which sadly does not mean eating chocolate to cheer yourself up, but should) and tanorexic; gastrosexual, retrosexual and ubersexual, all of which describe different types of 21st century man; along with manny and marriage lite; while environmental concerns gave us climate canary, garbology, gas sipper and pay-as-you-throw.

Science and medicine are always productive areas for neologisms, and this is reflected in entries such as body lift and voice lift, hypnosurgery, living bandage, obesogenic, polypill and saviour sibling.

As for how well they have stood the test of time: while some (including chocotherapy, climate canary, googleganger, technology butler and textual harassment) have proved rather transient, most of the BuzzWords featured in this article have survived and prospered, and many have become an unquestioned part of the world we live in.

My favourite of these BuzzWords is not very frequent but I find it irresistible. It is the wonderfully expressive marmalade dropper (muffin choker in US English): a piece of information, especially a newspaper article or headline, that is so shocking or exciting it causes you to drop your toast and marmalade (or choke on your muffin). Although the term appeared in the mid 1990s, to me it evokes a world where suave moustachioed gentlemen in striped pyjamas and dressing gowns ate leisurely breakfasts while reading the daily newspaper; as far from a coffee grabbed on the go and drunk at the desk as it is possible to imagine.

Thanks for all your submissions and do keep them coming. If there’s a word or expression that you think deserves inclusion in the Open Dictionary you can submit it here. Don’t forget to check first to make sure your word isn’t in our dictionary already.

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Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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