New words for new behaviours


Every now and then I come across new words, or words that are very old but which I haven’t come across before. I love it when I find someone’s invented a word for something that has really needed one. I guess it’s not surprising that my favourite word is “serendipity”. Here are some of my other more recent favourites:

  • astroturfing
    According to Wikipedia it’s “political, advertising, or public relations campaigns that are formally planned by an organization, but are disguised as spontaneous, popular “grassroots” behaviour” such as starting your own craze on Facebook. Online, they are also called stealth marketing  campaigns — the unscrupulous use of astroturfing combined with undermarket advertising to create the impression of spontaneous word-of-mouth enthusiasm.
  • forum bungeeing
    Last time I tried googling this it got no results as a phrase with quotations … I guess Google will now find this blog post!  This is not a Googlewhack – which is a search query consisting of exactly two words WITHOUT quotation marks, that returns exactly one hit.  Nor is it a Googlewhackblatt, which is similar to a Googlewhack except that it involves finding a single word that produces only one Google result or an Antegooglewhackblatt which produces no results at all (these are usually nonsense words and of course once shared will probably stop having their unique status). It means, of course, surfing from one forum or social media site to another without really participating at more than a surface level. A spammer would probably try forum bungeeing.
  • Generation Y
    are occupying the thoughts of university educators currently – they follow Generation X (who ARE the university educators!) and have probably been born in the 1980s and 1990s so many are going through University about now

Twitter has spawned a lot of words, all beginning with tw- , such as

  • twaiku
    A version of a haiku with the added constraint of only 140 characters
  • tweetup
    A meetup of people who known each other from, or have organised the event via, Twitter
  • twitterholic
    probably me – another typical ‘tword’ (did I just make that one up? probably not!)

Of course there’s the  Oxford Dictionary Word of the Year 2009:

  • unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook.
    As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.” Then again, perhaps the word should be “defriend”?
  • defenestrate has a new meaning – to remove Windows from your computer (probably to set it up as a Linux machine!)

and my current favourite

  • funemployed
    which is all about taking advantage of one’s newly unemployed status to have fun or pursue other interests. Something I’m doing right now as I write this post…