11 New Words We Learnt this Year

Published: Dec 27, 2010 06:47:34 AM IST
Updated: Dec 18, 2010 12:50:33 PM IST
11 New Words We Learnt this Year
Image: Sameer Pawar

Old-fashioned tights, but styled to look like jeans, some even coming with printed seams, belt loops and buttons. We hate the word, but we love how they look on the right legs. (Related: Jeather, which refers to denim jeans that look like they’re made of leather. Ah well. As long as they don’t
do Jylon.)

It’s quite an old — even old-fashioned — word, but it only jumped into the collective consciousness when Barack Obama used it to describe the electoral whupping the Democrats got in the last election.

We wish we hadn’t heard of this one. Or heard one. We love you, South Africa, but bury these where you put apartheid, please?

A Palinism (which is another new word, a natural successor to Bushism); a misbegotten
result of the union between (one assumes) ‘refute’ and ‘repudiate’ in the mind of the former US vice-presidential candidate.

Snowpocalypse, Snowmageddon

Blizzards, snowstorms and the like of epic proportions. Progeny of the harsh Northern hemisphere winter of 2009-2010.

Refers to the banks and bankers that caused the recession with their criminally irresponsible greed. Portmanteau of bank and gangster.


Again, not a new word. But one that sprang into the media’s vocabulary after the erudite Shashi Tharoor used it and got caught in a flurry of invective from people who were out to get him, who instantly sprang to the conclusion that he meant for Saudi Arabia to play intermediary between India and Pakistan. And that, as we know, is a holy cow for all knee-jerk nationalists.

Daycation, Greycation
More children of the recession. The first is a very brief holiday that doesn’t include an overnight stay, and the second is one taken with older family members to cut costs.


The Volcano That Cannot Be Named.* Literally. Even now we refer airily to the Icelandic volcano. Ask us which one and we quickly change the topic.
* Description courtesy Megha Murthy

Big Society
From British politics this time. Appropriated, if not originated, by now-PM David Cameron, in his campaign, and selected by the Oxford University Press as its word of the year. It’s not entirely clear what the term means, with even the OUP seeming to say that it was still being defined. Broadly, though, it refers to people power, as opposed to government power.

Tea Party
One more from US politics. Tea Partiers are to the Republicans what the RSS is to  the BJP.

The year also had its share of scandal-created neologisms, but we have taken a policy decision not to use the ‘-gate’ suffix until Bill and Melinda Gates have an altercation at the entrance to their estate. We have our headline ready: GatesGatesGateGate
(Research: Peter Griffin, Shloka Nath, N. Ramnath, Mitu Jayashankar, Deepak Ajwani, Nilofer D’Souza, Samar Srivastava)

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(This story appears in the 31 December, 2010 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Peter Griffin

    @ Manu Stanley: That was on our short-list, but we eventually had to drop it for space reasons. :)

    on Dec 28, 2010
  • Manu Stanley

    Forgot to mention the financial term "sweat equity" which is again not a new one, but got deeper into the mind of the common man after the IPL Kochi-Shashi Tharoor-Lalit Modi story.

    on Dec 28, 2010