N. pla-‘see-boh A man who seems to court a woman, asking her out and taking her to dinner and so on, but never makes a pass. Usage: Natasha was over the moon when Luke asked her out. He was handsome, kind, funny and smart, and seemed like a ‘catch.’ But when he didn’t make a move after a dozen ‘dates’, she asked mutual friends for advice, who told her Luke...
N. ‘flot-skum Unidentified floating object one observes with alarm while swimming in a pool. Usage: While swimming laps in the Carmine pool, Jessica was grossed out by a loop of flotscum that bobbed up in front of her goggles, until she realized it was her own hairband, which had slipped off during her exertions.
RATIONALOSER (N.) ‘ra-shun-a-‘loo-zur One who continually makes excuses for not making life changes that lie within his power, while ignoring the most obvious obstacles to his progress (lack of self-discipline, destructive relationships, unrealistic expectations). Also (v.) rationalose, to talk oneself out of constructive change. Usage: Why hadn’t Darya finished college, quit the job she...
N. ‘pak-spam The unending stream of “urgent,” unsolicited emails that arrive in one’s inbox from Political Action Committees and party offices, fishing for cash in the name of patriotism. Usage: Lorraine was alarmed when she noticed an email in her in box that said, HELP! BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! -but when she looked at the sender, she saw it was just pacspam from her...
N. ‘bat-tul-blond Someone who dyes her hair a jarring, unnatural shade of blond that (usually) clashes with her own coloring. Usage: Concetta had a bright mane of bleach-crisped yellow hair that she flung about with gusto. With her black eyebrows and striking, Paloma-Picasso-ish looks, she would have looked better with dark hair, but she was a defiant battle blonde, and in any case, she...
V. ‘kan-nun-bayl To cram your weekend getaway bag with great works of literature, but to end up reading Us Weekly and tabloids. Usage: Bea ambitiously packed “Parade’s End” and Borges stories for her East Hampton visit, but canonbailed at Penn Station and bought In Style and the New York Post “for the train.” By Sunday, she’d not only failed to crack...
V. pinkt To be splashed by fear-mongering demagogues with the charge of being Communist or socialist. (In the spirit of Ashton Kutcher’s “Punk’d”, but less mirthful.) Usage: When President Obama bailed out the banks, P.J. O’Rourke called him a Communist. When he rescued General Motors, conservative bloviator Rush Limbaugh pink’d him, denouncing his...
N. ‘noaz-blob The result of an overly thorough nosejob, which leaves the patient with too little trace of his formerly distinguishing trait. Usage: After they watched “Dirty Dancing” on DVD, the women raved about how much they loved Jennifer Gray before she got her noseblob, then started arguing about whether Michael Jackson’s nose had really fallen off after one of his...
V. ‘djah-lee-role To laugh so hard and so infectiously that you make others laugh, too (also (n.) a contagious laugh that inspires laughter in others). Usage: Whenever he felt blah, Edward pulled up the YouTube video of the laughing baby, listened to the kid jollyroll, and became convulsed himself. It was a better mood-lifter than Zoloft—and cheaper.
V. ‘or-tayt To speak, unaware that a scrap of food (“ort” in crossword puzzle parlance) is lodged in your teeth or clinging to part of your face, making it hard for others to focus on what you’re saying. Usage: Lavinia was hoping Dwight would ask her to his cabin in Maine, but when he did, over lunch, she didn’t hear. A strand of fettucine dangled from his lip as he...
N. ‘pol-tur-guy Ex-boyfriend who exerts an invisible, destructive influence on a person’s’s later relationships. Usage: Augusta had just gotten engaged to Sam when her polterguy, Mitchell, called after a long silence, reminded her of their time together, and told her he was coming to town.
N. ‘speed-snif Quick, furtive check made to see if one’s deodorant (Right Guard, Mitchum, Secret, Degree, Dove, Speed Stick, etc.) is working. Usage: Pretending he was reaching backward to wave to a friend, Eli took a fleeting speed-sniff under his shoulder to make sure he wasn’t offensively aromatic, then turned back to his date, smiling broadly.
V. ‘Fee-long The yearning, clutching noise cats make in their throats when they behold birds they cannot catch. Usage: Puff, Max and Boots stood rapt at the window for half an hour, felonging, their throats clicking and chirring with thwarted desire as they watched pigeons alight and depart unscathed. §-An egret’s plume to Joanna of Nerdabout.com for the concept.
N. ‘dop-pul-gay-zur Starstruck person who’s constantly convincing himself that he’s spotted a celeb, but realizes whenever the supposed VIP draws near that it’s an ordinary person. Usage: As she drove the rental car through Beverly Hills, Dara squealed every other minute, telling her friends she’d seen Britney Spears, or Cameron Diaz, or Zac Efron, or Will Smith....
Adj. dis-‘o-ree-‘rent-ud Dismayed feeling one has, minutes into driving a rental car, as one realizes one can’t figure out how to work the windshield wipers, move the seat forward, adjust the rearview mirrors, or find key buttons on the dashboard. Usage: As they left Avis and sped onto the West Side Highway, Maeve was totally disorirented. She didn’t know if she had the...
(Phrase) im-‘mak-yu-lut se-‘lek-shun The political imperative of nominating for Supreme Court Justice a distinguished, seasoned judge who is untainted by a single controversial personal opinion—or can appear as such during protracted hearings. Usage: During the prolonged, devious grilling process of her confirmation hearings, Judge Sonia Sotomayor did her best to avoid the traps set...
N. ‘doom-mayt A roommate whom you tolerate by necessity, but who is difficult, even dangerous, to live with. Usage: The only sublet Ted could afford was in Inwood, and his roommate was a frightening woman who drank too much tequila and was given to night rages. Still, for $300 a month, it was worth living with a doommate. At least until his unpaid internship was over.
N. The mackerel-based currency that his arisen in federal prisons in the last five years, which allows inmates (who aren’t allowed to possess cash or cigarettes) to trade plastic-foil pouches of mackerel fillets for favors, shoeshines, haircuts etc. Also, (adj.) mackero-economic; and (Fr.) maquereau-economics. Usage: While Felix served his time at Lompoc prison, he acquired hundreds of...
V. ‘blok-bus-ted To be duped into seeing a much-hyped summer blockbuster movie, only to discover that it’s absolute garbage. Usage: Drew shelled out 80 bucks to take a bunch of friends to the “hilarious!” summer comedy “Year One.” As the group sat in the dark cinema in stony silence for two hours, bored beyond belief, he realized he’d been...
Yin-Yang of Yogis
(Collective Noun) ‘yin-yang uv ‘yo-geez A cluster of mellow, slow-moving yoga practitioners, before, during, or after class. Usage: Brett had to walk into traffic to get around the yin-yang of yogis that blocked the sidewalk in front of the kundalini yoga parlor— stretching, yawning, and sipping white ginger tea, oblivious to the stressed-out commuters who hurried past them to the...
V. ree-‘gur-djih-prayt To exultantly pass along a juicy story or piece of gossip to somebody, forgetting that they’re the one who gave you the tidbit in the first place. Usage: “You’ll never believe how much they paid for this boat …” Teri whispered to Gala as their hosts walked off to help others board. “Yes I will,” Gala retorted, “I was the one who told you!” She sighed:...
SUPERPERVISOR (N.) soo-per-‘purv-vyz-ur Supervisor known for making hiring choices based on sex appeal, and/or for making inappropriate overtures to employees. Usage: On her first day of work Candace thought it was odd that so many women in her department were 5’7” and red-haired, like her. But as the boss came over and started hovering and flirting, she realized it was no...
(Phrase) myoot-‘poynt When somebody in a group makes a really good suggestion, but somehow, nobody hears it. (Typically, another person makes the identical suggestion soon after and gets the credit.) Usage: At the planning meeting, Marisol suggested a simple but effective idea for cost-cutting. As usual, nobody seemed to hear her. But when Ray made the same point ten minutes later,...
N. ‘Yaw †hurz Creatures that attain the pinnacle of cuteness in toddlerhood, but whose looks fall off a precipice thereafter. (Eventually they become “interesting-looking.”) Usage: Maura worried that Theo might turn out to be a yothers. He was adorable at one, a tow-headed angel at two, but by 4, had started looking a little like a turtle. Did all four-year-olds have an...
Adj. ‘fone-def Describing a (pretended) inability to recognize one’s own phone’s ring tone, a condition that generally kicks in when the phone rings in an awkward setting. Usage: “Are you phonedeaf?” Amanda hissed to the man beside her, whose phone shrilled repeatedly throughout “Au Fond du Temple Saint.” “Oh…was that my phone?” he whispered, gave a sheepish shrug, and put...
N. ‘mad-dad A man who, though notionally liberated, resents the responsibilities of fatherhood. Usage: Steve and Trina both had full-time jobs…but even though their kids were four and three, Steve still resisted the idea that when he got home from work he ought to help with the kids. Instead, like other mad dads, he hid out in the bathroom reading magazines as long as he could. But...
V. ‘dog-gul To daydream about the joys of dog ownership, and profess an overpowering love of dogs, but to take no steps that would actually bring one into your home. Usage: Edward was determined to get a harrier puppy, and had the animal’s name picked out: “Brutus.” This had been the case for a decade, and by now, Edward’s friends knew that he was just dawgling,...
(Phrase) ‘wil-pow-er ‘ow-tadj The moment when, after, hours, days, weeks, even months of heroic self-discipline (e.g. dieting, exercising, quitting smoking, not watching Entourage repeats) you crumble. Usage: In the six months before his college reunion, Claude kicked cigarettes, went on the Atkins diet, and lost thirty pounds. At the reunion, surrounded by his old roommates, he...
(Phrase) ‘helth-skayr ‘tak-tiks The frightening rhetoric U.S. politicians use as they argue for or against a national healthcare policy. Usage: Diana was confused by the healthscare tactics she heard on the news. Republicans said healthcare reform would destroy patient choice and harm small businesses; Democrats said underinsured Americans faced bankruptcy, poor care and death. All...
Adj. ‘shrink-tu-split Describing jeans that, in the dryer, become so tight and narrow that getting your legs into them defies all laws of physics, and sometimes rips seams. Usage: Dominique took her beloved Seven jeans from the dryer and soon discovered they’d turned shrink-to-split. Lying on her bed and sucking in her breath, she managed to jam her legs into them and get them...
Boehn de Soleil
N. ‘bain de so-‘lay The mysterious lotion that Ohio Rep. John Boehner applies to achieve his rosy year-round tan. Usage: “How does Boehner get that bronzed appearance?” asked the journaleer on the breakfast TV show. “He probably uses Boehn de Soleil!” joked the co-anchor.
Fric and Frock
Phrase ‘frik-and-‘frok Inseparable female best friends who come to resemble each other over time—dressing alike, and adopting the same mannerisms. Usage: Paige and Josie were like Fric and Frock. Sometimes Don couldn’t remember which of the women he was talking to, since they were rarely ever seen apart, wore the same kind of clothes, and sounded the same, in any case. §->...
V. hy-per-‘sent-a-late To apply too much perfume, surrounding yourself in a thick, aromatic mist that causes people nearby to choke, sneeze and cough. Usage: As soon as Neil stepped into the elevator, he began wheezing, his asthma set off by the cloying cloud of Fracas somebody had hyperscentilated.
N. max ‘leg-room Person on a train, bus, or airplane who reclines her seat fully, with total disregard for the comfort of the person behind her. Usage: The selfish Max Legroom in front of Lila on the Acela kept her seat all the way down throughout the three-hour trip. Unable to open her own tray table, Lila wished she could prop her Sierra Mist on the woman’s shoulders.
N. ‘bob-kat Young man who chases older women, finding them more alluring than women his own age (or younger). Usage: “Let’s go see Chéri,” suggested Juliet. “Is that the movie about that ancient Parisian cougar and the young guy?” Mark asked. “Please,” Juliet scoffed. “The guy was a bobcat—he’s the one who went after her. She...
N. ‘kron-a-kroo-nur One who frequently sings or hums loudly in the office, train, and other public spaces, oblivious to the effect produced. Also (v.) chronicroon. Usage: Lauren looked up from her computer to see that everybody in her cubicle warren was standing and staring at her. She’d been chronicrooning again, belting “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” at her desk....
N. ‘skol-ding-‘pat-turn In a multiple-child household, the predictable manner in which children alternate periods of good behavior with wild, roaring rumpuses that must be quelled. Usage: The kids had been quiet for ten minutes, which meant, Melanie knew, that the scolding pattern was about to kick in. §-Kidstuff Focus Week
Adj. ‘soal-fer-us That nostalgic feeling you get on the 4th of July when you breathe in the aroma of smoke bombs, black curling snake pellets, and smoldering sparklers set off by the next generation. Usage: Carefully lighting a purple smoke bomb as Auggie held it, Justin inhaled the soulfurous scent of the smoke trail as he laid the bomb gently on the grass.
N. ‘hoam-bud-dee Sociable but lazy (and/or thrifty) person who, whenever friends ask, “Where should we hang out tonight?” says, “How about my place?” Usage: Gracie and Jen knew Pete was a homebuddy. Like the rest of his friends, they usually put up with the trek to his place because it saved the trouble of making more ambitious plans. But tonight was 4th of July,...
N. ‘wee-bul An obese child—the name taken from Hasbro’s roly-poly Weebles™ toys, whose 1970s jingle proclaimed that they “wobble, but they don’t fall down.” Also adj., having the characteristics of a weeble. Usage: A study released in July by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) found that a third of American children in 30 states were obese or...
N. ‘shaft-ling A child in a large, not-too dysfunctional family who gets less nurturing than the others for obscure reasons. Usage: Maddie knew her parents loved her, but sometimes she felt like she got the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Her parents paid more attention to her smart-alecky little sister and her rowdy older brothers. Still, even if she was the shaftling, Maddie was proud of her...
Adj. ‘bink-rupt The intense feelings of loss, anxiety and deprivation suffered by a child who is separated from her binkie. Usage: Daniela wept inconsolably when Granny took away her pacifier. Three minutes later, Granny gave it back, unable to bear her grandchild’s binkrupt woe. §-Kidstuff Focus Week
N. smoov A man who, like the author of The Onion’s satirical “Smoove B” column, uses heavyhanded courtship methods that repel his target. Usage: As Tristan, hair-gelled, cologned, and American Appareled from head-to-toe, sidled up to a group of women at Radegast, hoping to unleash the “Mystery Method” pick-up technique, the women moved to the other side of the bar. ...
N. ‘bay-bee-‘split-tur Childminder who frequently leaves one’s kids in the lurch—on a variety of pretexts. Usage: For the fourth time in a month, Ida called last-minute and told Sarah and Dan she couldn’t make it. As Sarah dropped the boys at emergency daycare again, she admitted to herself that Ida was an incurable babysplitter. The kids loved her, but she’d have...
LOTOTOMIZED (Adj.) la-‘tot-ah-myzd Describing the feelings of confusion, exhaustion and loss of identity suffered by adults distracted by the clamorous, yammering company of little kids who need them. Usage: Before the twins were born, Dara and Jake ran a business, worked out daily, led a busy social life, kept up with relatives and friends, and gardened and decorated to their...