Sunday 5 February 2012

Boo and Hooray

Some words just signal BOO or HOORAY! Eighteenth century Philosopher Jeremy Bentham called them derogatory and eulogistic terms. Boo words sum up an entire attitude and somehow make it impossible to disagree. Hoorays are more rare. (Now collected in my book Boo & Hooray.)

Some words are already negative, but are used to mean another kind of sneer:
colonial (used to mean imperial, interfering, patriarchal, snobbish, arrogant)
arrogant (used to mean nasty or inconsiderate – and “thinks they are right”)

When believers tell others about their ideas, it is “preaching”. When nonbelievers do it, it is “aggressive atheism”. (@richardwiseman) 

dated/character features
We don’t want dated elements in the house we’ve just bought (boo!), but if old enough they are “character features” (hooray!).


Do I have overweening vanity? or high self-esteem?
Is this art or a puerile prank?
Am I pushy, or am I confident?


hard/soft (a hard economic valuation)
industrial unrest/industrial action
musicals (Gershwin, Rodgers’n’Hammerstein)/music theatre (cabaret, Brecht)
one-night stand/brief fling
sell off/sell

Sentimentality = feelings we think people shouldn't be feeling. Or else we think (or hope?) that they are insincere.
style/good design via @fatcharlesh

compound Only tyrants ever seem to have "compounds". Curious typological distinction. Maybe it's one of those conjugations: I have a headquarters; you have a base; he has a compound. I have a residence; you have a palace; he has a lair. (@WillWiles)

Sects and cults also have compounds./Perhaps we goodies have bases, while baddies have compounds (@entschwindet)

Sneering about how people speak here. More boo words here.

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