Word Spy


…interesting website that looks at new words that the media throws up…



n. A massive snowstorm; the negative effects of such a storm. Also: blizz-aster. [Blend of blizzard and disaster.]


One reader suggested we call the forthcoming snow a “snownami;” Karl coined the term “blizzaster.”

—Chuck Sudo, “You Say ‘Snowpacalypse,’ We Say ‘Tuesday’,” Chicagoist, January 31, 2011

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Posted on February 2, 2011

death tweet

n. A death threat written as a Twitter update.

death tweeter n.


Vermont comedian Chris King was arrested Oct. 8 for tweeting: “I am dying inside. And I am plainly stating to you that I am going to kill the president.” Such “death tweets” on the social media network Twitter have figured in several high-profile threat arrests.

—Patrik Jonsson, “Threats against Obama: Michael Stephen Bowden is just the latest,” The Christian Science Monitor, November 26, 2010

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Posted on February 1, 2011

mom cave

n. An area of a house that a woman can decorate to her tastes and be alone to pursue her own projects and interests. Also: mum cave.


But these days, women are chiseling out their own sanctuary, taking over a room, nook or even a closet and making it their “mom cave.” A mom cave is the place where the woman who nurtures everyone goes to nurture herself, said Elaine Griffin, New York City interior designer.

—Megan K. Scott, “Women find a space of their own with mom caves,” USA Today, January 22, 2011

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Posted on January 28, 2011

relaxation drink

n. A nonalcoholic drink formulated to help promote relaxation and relieve stress.

relaxation-drink adj.


While energy drinks are a very competitive segment of the beverage market, he said, Chillo — which has a slight hint of citrus but no medicinal aftertaste — has its own niche. “There are a couple of other hemp drinks out there, but they’re billed as relaxation drinks, rather than energy drinks,” Behar said.

—Mimi Whitefield, “Thousands expected to attend the 14th Americas Food & Beverage Show,” The Miami Herald, October 22, 2010

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Posted on January 27, 2011

gallery rage

n. Extreme anger displayed by an art gallery patron when a visit is marred by huge crowds or rude gallery staff.


Gauguin: Maker of Myth has drawn what is thought to be a record number of visitors to a Tate exhibition, but many of them left the building in a state of what one prominent art critic called “gallery rage“. The crowding in front of the paintings on display was so bad, according to angry art fans and critics, that they have vowed never to go to such a big show again.

—Vanessa Thorpe, “Gallery rage‘ mars the Tate’s record-breaking Gauguin show,” The Observer, January 16, 2011

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Posted on January 26, 2011


n. An imposingly long building, particularly one that houses a commercial enterprise, such as a factory or hotel. Also: land-scraper.


To put up almost a mile of space-age, super-luxury grandstand, including a four-block, 11-storey hotel, within 12 months — the “longest landscraper in the world” — and then to establish two different racing surfaces, one turf, one the artificial Tapeta, which won universal approval, is an amazing achievement.

—Brough Scott, “Lloyd Webbers win Dubai millions,” The Sunday Times, March 29, 2010

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Posted on January 25, 2011


n. An inexpensive, low-quality cappuccino, particularly one from a vending machine; a cappuccino made from brewed or instant coffee. Also: cheappuccino. [Blend of cheap and cappuccino.]


Scratch-off tickets are fun…I tend to have better luck with them. The most I got was $5 on one. Used it to buy a “cheappuccino” and junk from the gas station.

—Golden Silence, “Lotto Ladies” (comment), La Bella Noire’s Ramblings, February 6, 2007

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Posted on January 21, 2011


n. A person who opposes copyright laws and practices that he or she perceives to be unfair.

copyfight v.


With the rushed passage into law of the Digital Economy Act this month, the fight over copyright enters a new phase. Previous to this, most copyfighters operated under the rubric that a negotiated peace was possible between the thrashing entertainment giants and civil society.

—Cory Doctorow, “Digital Economy Act: This means war,” The Guardian, April 16, 2010

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Posted on January 20, 2011


adj. Describing or relating to food grown in a person’s own garden. Also: garden to fork.


Headteacher Mo Brown said: “What an amazing achievement by our green, mean eco-team. This rich garden-to-fork experience is the very essence of Curriculum for Excellence.”

—”Grass-roots education at its best,” Selkirk Advertiser, June 25, 2010

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Updated on January 19, 2011

foreclosure mill

n. A law firm that processes foreclosures perfunctorily and without due process.


The Florida Attorney General’s Office calls these firms “foreclosure mills” because of the large volume of cases they handle. Critics say the firms got so big that they fostered an atmosphere for sloppiness.

—Shannon Behnken, “Suit: ‘Foreclosure mill’ forced employee to overwork,” The Miami Herald, January 17, 2011

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Posted on January 18, 2011

appraisal mill

n. An unscrupulous company that provides misleading or erroneous appraisals, particularly for real estate.



Still, some experts say the system needs an overhaul, from the “appraisal mills” and “mortgage mills” that started the frenzy to the “foreclosure mills” now in play.

—Kimberly Miller, “Halt reveals lenders’, firms’ dubious moves,” Palm Beach Post, October 24, 2010

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Posted on January 18, 2011

mortgage mill

n. A company that automatically approves mortgages, particularly to unqualified buyers.


During the housing boom, lenders created mortgage mills and put people into overpriced homes with mortgages that were difficult to understand and even more difficult to maintain. They often didn’t bother to verify incomes or an applicant’s long-term ability to keep up with the mortgage payments.

—Michelle Singletary, “An easy fix: Lenders must put people first,” The Washington Post, October 17, 2010

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Posted on January 18, 2011



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