Sunday, October 9, 2016

Words and Phrases in the News

By Joanna Campbell Slan

Each news cycle brings phrases and words into our daily vocabulary. Given the news cycle this week, I’ve been reflecting on a few:

1*    “Walk it back” – Not exactly a retraction. More like a softening of a position. Back-peddling.

2*    “Double down” – To put more emphasis on something, or put more weight behind a position.

For more on these two terms, here’s an engaging article that appeared in the Huffington Post:

3*    “On the back foot” – and – “On the front foot” – The former describes being at a disadvantage. The latter is an aggressive position, or an advantage. These terms are a British import.

4*     “Disinvite” versus “Uninvite” – The former is to purposefully rescind an invitation to a specific person. This is considered much more negative than to “uninvite,” which is a more generalized retraction of an invitation, and usually not directed toward a specific person who is no longer welcome.

 There’s also been a lot about “hot mics.” A “hot mic” is a microphone that’s live, or broadcasting sound. As a former motivational speaker and talk show host, I learned very quickly that one should always assume that every microphone is hot.

“Hunker down” is a phrase I particularly like. It’s very visual, isn’t it? It means to settle in or to dig in for a while.

“Shelter-in-place” is close kin to “hunker down.” It means to take refuge, usually because of dangerous conditions outside.

“Victory lap” refers to a celebratory circuit around a track.  It’s also come to describe any post-contest congratulatory activity.

On average, the Oxford Dictionary records 1,000 neologisms (new words or terms) a year. I think 2016 and the upcoming election will yield a bumper crop! What new words/terms are you puzzling over?


Linda O. Johnston said...

Fun post, Joanna. I love hearing about the evolution of words. Our language keeps changing!

Monica Ferris said...

I believe "shelter in place" is new or nearly new. But "hunker down" is old - I remember it from my childhood. And I myself am old.