8 New Words The English Language Needs


While reading Romeo and Juliet my 9th grade English teacher lobbied for the class to bring the word yesternight back into usage. In a similar, most likely fruitless, vein, I have created a few words to fill the gaps in millennials’ lexicon. Take for instance:

1. Textiety

In the middle of texting someone you’ve got a crush on they suddenly go M.I.A. Your immediate reaction is to: A) Realize they are probably just busy; B) Find something potentially productive to do; or C) Frantically reread the conversation to see all the ways what you wrote could have been horribly misread. Well, just like it always was in elementary school multiple-choice exams, the correct answer is usually choice C.

Textiety, the portmanteau of texting and anxiety, captures the stress involved in our non face-to-face communications pretty well.

2. Staircase Wit

The French term L’esprit de l’escalier, or “staircase wit,” refers to thinking of a witty response too late for its use (e.g. while descending the stairs as you leave a party). Say what you will about taking things from the French, but with quicker and more constant communication, our need for a similar word will only increase. I’m partial to the phrase staircase wit, which has an eloquence translated directly into English.

3. Laptopoffenangst

With a laptop and an Internet connection, there’s almost nothing you can’t find. With a laptop, an Internet connection, and your dirty mind, there are probably a lot of things you’ve found that you don’t want other people to know about. So every once in a while, you’re going to open your laptop in public and wonder things like: Did I close all those tabs? or: Was my search history cleared?

The Germans are great at stringing words together to create new terms. Take, for example, backpfeifengesicht, a term for a face that looks extremely punchable. In their honor, I suggest the word laptopoffenangst – literally “laptop open angst” in German.

4. Obsessive-Compulsive Phone-Engagement (OCP)

The Inuit use the word iktsuarpok to describe “the feeling of anticipation that leads you to look outside to see if anyone is coming.” The obvious parallel in our society is to the nervous tick-like cell phone checking of the first member of a group to show up at the bar. In general, OCP could refer to any use of the phone as a social crutch, or in excessive quantities at social engagements. When you start to consider that people can get phantom vibrations, “obsessive-compulsive” is the right phrase.

5. Livecapping

What we’re talking about here is basically the recap of events that are still ongoing. The Olympics, red carpet galas, and episodes of TV are commonly livecapped via social media. Theoretically, this is useful for events you can’t get on TV but still want to know about. But in reality, its creation has probably served almost no purpose other than to spoil things you were waiting to watch on TV.

For example, why watch 8 men swimming an arbitrary distance using an inefficient stroke (here’s looking at you, 200m butterfly) when NBC already tweeted out that Michael Phelps didn’t win?

6. Sedatephobic Braggadociousness

Going through college, I noticed there was large amount of bragging about things that no one should place any value in. Examples included bragging about how blackout one got the previous night, one’s beer pong prowess, or what Greek organization one belonged to. We need a word for when people brag about things they shouldn’t care about.

I like to think this type of bragging is used as social lubricant to bridge conversational gaps. Sedatephobic comes from the Greek for fear of silence, and Braggadociousness comes from… well, adding ness onto braggadocious. This could also be called Gap bragging. Conversely, someone who really is trying to brag about inconsequential things should be termed a bro or frat star.

7. Web-Watching

I wrote this piece while watching Donnie Brasco and several hours of live TV. In fact, it’s very rare that I watch TV without simultaneously browsing the Internet. Of course, this really means that I’m not really paying attention to either activity. In fact, web-watching something is an implication of how engaging it is. “I really want to like Cosmos, but every time it comes on I end up web-watching it.”

For convenience, this could also be abbreviated for easy texting while you are web-watching as WWB (Watching While Browsing).

8. Buzzfeedification

Buzzfeedification is the process whereby news organizations cut out substance, throw in irrelevant GIFs, group articles into lists, and/or produce click bait titles to drive page views. Now that Buzzfeed has mastered the formula for the number of cat GIFs to include on any given page, they are the true embodiment of the widening content gap across mediums. Curmudgeonly old people might lament it, but this change isn’t particularly good or bad: it’s the invisible hand paw of the market in action.