Open Dictionary

Word of the Month: leaker

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Written by Liz Potter

July was a bumper month in the Open Dictionary, with submissions well up on previous months. The proportion of entries accepted was also up on the usual figure, at over 50%. Perhaps our contributors started their holidays early and had a lot of time on their hands?

A regular contributor, Caleb Judy from the US, submitted some useful entries, including among others the adverb grouchily, dunce’s cap (rarely if ever seen outside cartoons these days), the informal term grandkid, and the phrase get or put your head down. Another regular, Ismail from the Russian Federation, contributed entries that included the phrasal verb brush over and the humorous expression act your age not your shoe size. An honourable mention too to Samuel Chung of Mexico, who gave us bigamist and related words, and abdabs or habdabs, an informal word meaning ‘anxiety’.



We had a slew of great phrases this month, many from our regular contributor Boris Marchenko. These ranged from everyday phrases such as accidents will happen, hit it big and box clever to more colourful expressions such as spread yourself too thin, sweat the small stuff, like watching paint dry. None of these are new, they just had not previously been added to the dictionary, mainly because of past space constraints. So if you come across an expression that is in use but not yet in the dictionary, do submit it for consideration.  We are, of course, grateful for all submissions, not just those from regular contributors.

My favourite new phrase comes from the US and was completely unfamiliar to me. To fold like a (cheap) lawn chair is so vivid it could have come from the pen of a Chandler or a Thurber. In fact it seems to be of much more recent origin, and is what is known as a snowclone, a phrase with an empty slot into which a number of different items can be inserted (in this case tent, suit, suitcase, umbrella and so on).

Contributions to the Open Dictionary generally include a good number of scientific and technical entries and July was no exception, with atherosclerosis, bubble universe, exomoon, H2 blocker, idiopathic, nephrology, peroxidase, and pharyngeal all gaining a place. More everyday entries included groupthink, homewear, lose-lose and netsuke, while my favourite neologisms were grammable (worthy of being shared on Instagram, from Kerry) and pyder, a blend (in both senses of the word, as lexicoj0hn put it) of perry and cider.

Among all these riches, my Open Dictionary word of the month for July is the rather mundane leaker. The term was used by Donald Trump back in June in reference to the sacked FBI Director James Comey. As the summer wore on, an ever-changing cast of characters entered and exited the White House with dizzying speed, sometimes staying no longer, as one wit observed, than a carton of milk in the fridge. There were accusations and counter-accusations that this or that departing staffer was responsible for some of the damaging stories leaking out of a very leaky administration.

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

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