Sunday 3 December 2023

Buzzwords of 2023

Anybody not giving a toss about the Coronation in May, or is it just me? (@DoctorJevvy Jan 23 2023)

passive voice: People have moved on from “passive voice” in headlines to “burying the lead”. (They're still complaining about the passive voice – they think it means "not laying blame". Or "not condemning atrocities".)

pluck: Survivors of the Turkey earthquake are being “plucked” from the rubble. (2023-02-06)

peasouper: People talking about a couple of days of mist as a “Thames peasouper”. Pea soup is a lot thicker than that – and yellow, being made of split peas. In a peasouper fog the sun never rises.  

curate: Does “curated” now mean “comes with an explainer that makes everybody feel ‘safe’, ie we’ve explained gender fluidity and non-binary to make sure visitors know that we know”?

15-minute cities: The government unveils a plan to make cities walkable by having everything you need in 15 minutes walk – corner shops, pharmacies, dry cleaners, green spaces. Weird backlash from libertarians who moan that stopping them driving to out of town supermarkets (that the carless can’t access) is a limit on their freedom. They also say it’s “statist”! Power and property grab by the state! The state has done nothing so far but impose traffic restrictions. Is it a “build it and they will come” philosophy? If people can’t drive to Budgen’s will someone open a corner shop? (How on earth would you police it? And what will happen to Budgen’s?)

People are “pulled from the rubble” after the “devastating” Turkish earthquake. 

Those who stand up for women’s rights accused of “bad faith” a lot the week of Feb 19, though it’s quite common at any time. 

Pronouns (again – and it didn’t catch on the last time, ie 40 years go, when "zhe, hir and thon" were suggested).  

dogwhistle: Is dogwhistle becoming conflated with whistleblower?

Job search website Adzuna finds that many offices have a more “dress-down” policy after staff spent two years working from home in leisure-wear.


The predicted flight from London has not happened. Meanwhile many high street shops are empty because owners can’t be found. And we wring our hands over the death of the high street. 

quinoa: I’m tired of “jokes” about people pronouncing quinoa as “keen-wah”. I don’t think anybody ever did. Quinoa has been around in Europe for over 20 years. 

far-right: You can call any opinion you like "far-right" and people will pile on to condemn it. ("I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil!")

Actress Emma Watson says she’s “self-partnered”. Just when you think people can’t get any more idiotic. 

predatory: Popular week of March 1. Woman photographed the people who chanted slogans at her when she asked what rights trans people didn’t have – described as “creepy, predatory” behaviour. (They were in the distance, turned away.)

Putting gambling machines in pubs: “This is nothing short of predatory behaviour”. 

slur: Popular week of March 6, not always correctly used.

“We need to have a national conversation about...” popular this week too. Yes, let’s have all those conversations! Roll on the Court of Law for Ideas.

Gary Lineker says Suella Braverman uses language about immigrants “similar to” that used by Germany in the 30s. Many assume he said “the British government is like Germany in the 30s and they use identical language”. (Many use “similar to” to mean “exactly like”.)

2023-03-14 Oxford Street is going to be tarted up. There must be a fund they don’t know what to do with. Not pedestrianised – some traffic will still be allowed. I hope that means “buses and taxis”, otherwise how will we get to the shops?

Lot of distortion of others’ arguments around this week. Distortion and misquotation. “She didn’t say anything about X but there was a dogwhistle! She really meant...” (How do they sleep at night?)

I've just worked out that when people say a film is “dark” they mean “sad”. Or "no happy ending"? Life is sad.

Long, bland and good-humoured threads give a sudden kick at "those who attack Jeremy Corbyn with a hidden agenda" or “those climate-activist, mask-wearing idiots”. 

ban: Sunak wants to ban nitrous oxide, and intelligent, educated people are getting quite cross about “banning things”. It only causes worse problems, apparently. At the same time, everybody is using the word “ban” when earlier they might have used “drop” or “scrap”.

It’s nearly April 1, and competitive indifference to the Coronation has begun. 

Rarebit” employed to mean “grilled cheese on toast”. Welsh Rabbit is a Bombay Duck, which is a fish. Or Poor Man’s Goose, which is veal. 

Unalive” used for “kill” because Tiktok mutes references to murder and suicide.

Musicals such as Six and Juliet have organised specific singalong shows. (Guardian)

Sunak says women don’t have penises (Week headline) One day we’ll look back on this, laugh nervously and change the subject. (John O’Farrell) Sunak’s statement was “bold”, apparently. Keir Starmer says a mere 1% of women have penises so that’s all right really. You really can’t sit on the fence, or please everybody, on this one.

Rolled out without any consultation. Too many things are. How is this possible? (Especially "gender-neutral toilets" without consulting women.)

Why is there no oversight of lobbyists in schools? Why are they there in the first place?

People being told to “touch grass”.

Just Stop Oil are “middle-class” protesters with “luxury beliefs” (A man called Edred threw turmeric onto a snooker table during a televised match – actually it was orange powder symbolising flames.)

Liberal and Reform Judaism merge. Joint CEOs are Josh Levy and Charley Baginsky.

Journalist confuses misgendering with dead-naming. “Yes, OK. But it doesn't matter what term you use for it – it's intentional and hurtful.” (Flaubert: Yes, but my point holds!)

Kirstie Allsopp on the culture wars acting like a throwback from the 50s: Sit down, you’re rocking the boat; there’s always an off button; block and move on. Not just the “Nothing to see here, haven’t you got homes to go to?” but the assumption that she knows best and gives the orders. Someone says she belongs to a rich Bohemian set in West London. Explains the “I’m all right, Jack”. She bought her kids tablets and then broke them in front of their eyes because they used them too much. Performative cruel parenting. “Not the sharpest tool in the box, and separated from the sharp end of the debate by class and cash,” says @lespauljunior3. I add: She and others like her assume that their expensive education has made them more intelligent than the plebs.

Judy Blume and Margaret Atwood come out in support of the gender-critical movement, and then almost immediately publish an apology and basically say “No, I was wrong, transwomen are women.” Someone says they should be holding up a copy of today’s paper in their hostage video. 

Diane Abbott has been suspended from the Labour Party for saying that Jews, Roma and Travellers experience “prejudice”, not “racism”. And Martin Rowson’s caricature of Richard Sharp, straight out of Die Stürmer, has been taken down. (Feeble excuse: “Those aren’t gold pieces, they are polyps on the mantle of the vampire squid.” What kind of squid, Martin?)

Many people post pix of elaborate past architecture and ask “Could we do this today?” Answer: The reason why we don’t built Reims Cathedral today is a) it takes several hundred years. b) The money was provided by people who wanted to stay out of Hell, a form of crowdfunding that has passed its sell-by date. 

Lots of “why isn’t there a ‘none of the above' option”? @GeorgeReeves94 sums it up: Don’t feel like you need to choose the least bad option. 

Women are talking too often and too loudly. Could they protest a little more softly? And not quite so publicly?

crunchy: Seen three or four uses of the word “crunchy” in the past week. Crunchy socks, crunchy pop, crunchy anti-vaxxers. Meaning? (Gone, December.)


Lots (well, two) complaints about biased headlines that turn out to be purely factual.

What do you conclude about someone who starts a sentence “I am not anti-Semitic...”?

When people say “I had to do X” they never really had to. Nobody was forcing them to. It wasn’t a life-or-death scenario. Likewise “half the time” means “all the time”. Sorry, I’m a bit slow.

May 30 2023 This week’s “thing I am too refined and superior to give a damn about” is Philip Scofield


Joke: Free-thinking nonconformist comes out as non-binary just like every single one of her friends.

There’s a restaurant (Silo in East London) serving up invasive species – at last: This week, it launched its most ambitious menu to date, featuring grey squirrel, seaweed, crayfish, muntjac, venison and Pacific oysters. (Did the writer mean “muntjac venison”, since a muntjac is a kind of deer?)

rewilding: Boring conversations about “Is that really rewilding?”, “What about this?”, “But is that proper rewilding?”. It may be about the way jumpers on the bandwagon are selling ways of profiting from rewilding. Is rewilding the next ostrich farm?

Covid: Some on Twitter really don’t like me saying that Covid is a real disease and vaccines protect you from it. Everybody I know, knows someone who was vaccine-injured. Everyone who was vaccinated regrets it now. Why am I “losing my wig”? Because you’re talking nonsense, that’s why.

the socials: Social media is now “the socials” – the Communist Party of Britain’s website even has a tab labelled “socials”.

Latest “thing that never happened” anecdote is “My mother/friend/acquaintance was waved through the passport queue because she said she was still “emotionally” a member of the EU (or somesuch).” (2023-06-15)

There’s still a rash of people tweeting pix of Gothic cathedrals and asking “Why can’t we make such beautiful buildings now?”. Latest incarnation: My father-in-law is a builder. It is difficult to get his attention in a magnificent space because he is lost in wonder. We were in a cathedral together years ago and I asked him what it would cost to build it today. I will never forget his answer… “We can’t, we don’t know how to do it.” (Nearly always with a picture of fan vaulting.) @DJMHarland points out: Most Gothic cathedrals are still standing and in good condition precisely because they continue to possess highly trained, expert stonemasons, who have an intimate understanding of their architecture and continuously work to maintain them. Dr Francis Young responds with pix of Gothic church: Also, this was mostly built in the late 90s and early 2000s.

And must trans activists winch in the word “existence” at every opportunity?

Vigil in Nottingham for three murder victims like a cross between an American political rally and a religious service. How did they organise it all so quickly? A choir, religious leaders, the bereaved families, the victims’ friends – and everybody is clapped. Somebody said “mawkish”. 

Midaxi? Just the skirt-length I want!

So tired of the word “journey”.

Writer-in to Times Feedback column asks if the word “guardrails” is the most over-used in June 2023. Metaphorically, of course.

And I wish people would shut up about unicorns.

Story about schoolgirl who identifies as a cat was made up. You amaze me.

WFH: "People working from home are to blame for everything" is the new "Single people are to blame for everything".

Does “gender stereotypes” now mean “they think humans can’t change sex” and “they think humans are either male or female”? Men and women are just stereotypes?

Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, has claimed that anxiety caused by social media and the physical strain of working from home at unsuitable tables have contributed to a dramatic rise in people suffering long-term sickness. (So get a suitable table! And an adjustable chair with arms.)

GOAT: greatest of all time (Has rather faded, December.)

Now they’re trying to find a woke alternative for “virginity”. Confusing the thing itself with patriarchal attitudes about the thing. (The map is not the territory.)

And the gender critical are “a cult”. No, you’re a cult! 

holding the ring: monitoring a debate while not joining in.

Is everything a human interest show now? BBC Breakfast, Antiques Road Show, Bargain Hunt? At least the creeping blight hasn’t hit Homes Under the Hammer or The Antiques Road Trip. No room for sobbing on HutH – it’s all mundic block, grout, filth, awful puns, relevant pop songs, vertiginous gardens, converted Methodist chapels, ripping out kitchens, destroying Art Deco glass... While The Yorkshire Auction House starts straight in with cancer diagnoses. 

When did party become “house party”? When did driving somewhere become “road trip”? (@amotorhomme)

“Is it true Muslims don’t pay stamp duty?” asks @colinedwardvoss. And homeless people own dogs because they get their food for free...

narcs: Now narcissists, not narcotraficantes.


Yasslighting: Yes, of course you pass! You go, girl, etc.

Working from home is bad for young people. (They could have a point as young people use workplaces to make friends and look for a partner.)

I didn't think I'd see the return of UFOs – or men calling feminists “man-haters”. Or saying “equality means women want to dominate”.

Many people posting pix of overhead projectors and asking “Who knows what this is?”

When they’re not doing that, they’re posting pix of quaint towns under snow, which might have had some point if we were experiencing a heatwave. Meanwhile, it probably IS snowing.

Stupid labcoat scientism cult – I didn’t think I’d live to see this one again, either. Popular in the 80s, though then it was “white-coated priesthood”.

You’re some tulip – like “a bit of a daisy”. Funny idiot.

Guarantee always bespoke tweets from a boutique posteur. (@hyperdiscogirl)

Arguments about who can walk on the grass at Cambridge.

Fluffing popular mid-Aug.

Flex moved from meaning “bend” or “tense” (something you do to muscles to show them off), to “brag”. Now it just seems to mean “attitude”.

On the regular (late Aug)

Planes are grounded – it’s “chaos”, of course.

I wish people would stop using “heart-wrenching” for “heart-rending”. Perhaps they don’t know what “rending” means (tearing). I have rent my garment. The tree was rent in twain by lightning.

Latest is “a pregnancy is entirely a woman’s responsibility”.

Europe is really tiny, and why don’t the Brits just drive eight hours to get to Edinburgh? (Probably because, unlike in the States, there are a lot of towns in the way. And if you're starting from Dublin, the sea.)

Why are shorts worn mainly by very old men?

I am always a safe person and will hold space for you. What does this mean?

mid: Looks like “mid” now means “Looks like a human being rather than a surgically enhanced freak”. Can that be Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin? And young men are getting the "jaw of the moment".

Cope is apparently this year’s buzzword. If you don’t like it – cope. But there may be other meanings.

People are talking about the Rapture, and astrology. Is this 1985?

wounded, trauma, healing, triggered: (What happened to “closure”?) You are supposed to reach a stage when you are "healed" and no long feel "triggered" by distress, neglect, mistreatment, abuse... And you are supposed to work towards healing and feel guilty if you don't reach it. It’s victim-blaming by any other name. Translation: One day you won’t mind what people did to you in the past, which gets the perps off the hook. Notice that you “heal”, you are not “healed”. People done you wrong? Heal yourself! Don’t think of reporting the perps to the police, or reorganising society so that nobody can do the same thing again.

People popping up to say, helpfully: “What we need to do in this confusing situation is to change the current popular meaning of all the terminology, sometimes to the opposite meaning.”

Much moaning about 15-minute cities. Do some Americans never walk anywhere? Never walk along a street? Perhaps we should sell it as a cure-all therapy! Street-bathing. 

universe: People have substituted "the universe" for God and believe in a "just world that cares about me" without ever defining it. One shamanic practitioner was honest enough to say that she refers to “the universe” because the word “God” puts people off. But “the universe” is very controlling. See also “It was meant”. Meant by whom?

Frog of shame? Rizz? Please explain.


accelerationist:  People who genuinely want there to be societal collapse and advocate for ways to get us to that collapse quicker. Millennialism, explains @BlakeBlakebabee. Apparently it's very popular, in different brands, in Silicon Valley. There are probably separate schools, sects and heresies by now.

Someone is posting on Twitter film of London from the 30s to the 60s, accompanied by tinkly piano music. “What do you think of this scene?” the account asks. Peaceful, tranquil, how did we lose it? Shame it is now “destroyed” say the comments. And also “no black people”, which was the subtext from the start.

Post-Maine, Speaker Mike Johnson blames mass shootings on “no-fault divorce laws”, “feminism” and Roe v. Wade. Women, in fact.

Things are being “throttled” this week, end Oct 2023. If you want to create a platform that attracts high quality creators, don’t throttle Tweet visibility, even temporarily @elonmusk. (@tristanbeanie14) May be from some American sport, me lud. Watch Benson throttle down, cut back inside, and shrug off a couple tackle like it’s nothing. (@7RoundsInHeaven) Rugby, not strangulation.

Subaltern is back with us from WWI.

Trans Rights Activists of all kinds video themselves crying in their cars because they’ve been misgendered. They couldn’t do that on a bus.

queer: now means “TRA”.


People using “bipolar” to mean “contradictory”. They know they’re not supposed to use “schizophrenic” in the same way. How long will it take to beat it into their heads that no, they can’t use “bipolar” either?

Gender-critical people are also anti-abortion, very right wing, Nazis, Holocaust deniers, genocide promoters blah blah.

Stonewall have moved on to asexuality, led by Yasmin Benoit. (She's helped write their report. It's an umbrella term, say Stonewall. In the bad old days we might have used the word "frigid".) 

Struggle sessions or denunciation rallies were violent public spectacles in Maoist China where people accused of being "class enemies" were publicly humiliated, accused, beaten and tortured by people with whom they were close. Usually conducted at the workplace, classrooms and auditoriums, "students were pitted against their teachers, friends and spouses were pressured to betray one another, [and] children were manipulated into exposing their parents". Staging, scripts and agitators were prearranged by the Maoists to incite crowd support. The aim was to instil a crusading spirit among the crowd to promote the Maoist thought reform. (Wikipedia. It couldn't happen here.)

Facebook has banned the Lord’s prayer! Oh, only a rumour.

refoulement No, we can’t send refugees to Rwanda. (The expulsion of refugees from a place where they can rightfully claim refugee status to a place where they may face persecution or other threats, such as the country or disaster area from which they originally fled. Free Dictionary)

Israelis are accused of being “white”. (@FabricioNakata, Nov 13) You can't say MENAs (from the Middle East or North Africa) are white because that's like saying they're privileged.

2023-11-18, outside Downing Street 7.30pm. Trans rights activists singing ‘From the River…’. Just Stop Oil activists with Palestinian flags… What is going on? (@nicolelampert)

Anti-Semitism: I don’t wish to be pedantic, and I let most things pass, but it’s “anti-SemITic”. It doesn’t rhyme with “emetic”.

We can only analyse by looking for power imbalances. Who are "we", again?

Mossad was behind the Dublin riots 2023-11-24. Oh, of course.

Mommunes are a thing.

Can we stop saying things are “broken”?

Everybody is called Brianna.

Either everything is "hate" or nothing is. (Saying “I don’t want to share bathrooms with men” is “hate” (and “bigotry”), but calling for a genocide of the Jewish people “depends on the context”, per Harvard and Penn presidents. They have issued qualifying statements since.)

domicide 😞 (Destroying someone's home and society.)

picky tea (Pick a bit of this and a bit of that. Meze, tapas.)

What happened to all those snowflakes? Did they melt?

People tweeting heartbreakingly: "I DO own my life, with all its flaws, I DO own it! I WILL heal! I will no longer be triggered." This is victim-blaming AND gaslighting. Please, dear souls, forgive yourselves. If your life was pretty awful, it was. And I’m sure you know where the fault lies. Maybe you can never "heal" from dreadful experiences, only make sure they never happen again. 

When did bakeries become 'micro'? Why is there a middle-class tendency to prepend words like bakery, brewery and swimming with buzz words to make them socially acceptable? (@gwpurnell)

Context” excuses and explains everything.

Oodie. Is it a Slanket with a hood?

Are we using words like equity and parity because others use "equality" to mean "preferential treatment"?

settler-colonialist: the new "Let him be anathema".

It's still December 2023 and Easter Eggs are on sale, giving some people conniption fits

energy: It's back in some people's vocabulary, meaning "spirit, psyche, soul" as before. (What energy are you taking into 2024?)

from a place of...

Male folksingers are singing affecting ditties much too slooooowly.

And classical musicians are doing the equivalent of "food with a twist" by pulling the time around. Bach wrote his pieces in strict tempo, and that's how wanted them played. They are much more affecting that way. 

Meanwhile cellists are trying to put significance in to Bach's suites for their instruments. Nobody thinks the violin partitas and sonatas are works of great pith and moment, so fiddlers get away with playing them as they are written. Is high-pitched music somehow less important than low-pitched?

More here, and links to the rest.

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