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The New York TimesDecember 19, 2009By MARK LEIBOVICH and GRANT BARRETTYou could Tweet all the highlights of 2009 and still have time for dithering. But to catalog the lingo? It would be like one long torture memo. We need to impose a timetable. Let’s get right to our full plate.It was a year for birthers, deathers and Tenthers to go all nine-iron on the Obama brand.Catchphrases and buzzwords can tell us much about a year past — what resonated, what stuck, what the year revealed about the sensibility of the nation, whether you’re a wise Latina woman, a mini-Madoff, a teabagger or Balloon Boy.But if ever there were a year to put buzzwords before a death panel, this would be it, before the aporkalypse comes.If the year were a Government Motors car, it would be a clunker. There was so much distraction. Things like Great Recessions and mancessions will do that, distract you (like a Dracula sneeze). So will texting while driving, which is far more dangerous in the scheme of things than sexting (unless it’s sexting while driving), and maybe even hiking the Appalachian Trail. Whatever, it was a year when a lot of people acted stupidly.What is there to say about a period in which Tea Parties, swine flu parties and a beer summit became desirable social engagements in certain circles?If you think any of this sounds fun, you lie.If this year were a state dinner, even the Salahis wouldn’t Salahi it.If it were a purity test, it would be Scozzafava’d.So let’s just call it an El Stiffo, pull the trigger and have Sully ditch the whole year in the Hudson. Declare 2009 a mulligan. You know Tiger wishes he could.But that’s a public option. I’mma let you finish. —Mark LeibovichGrant Barrett’s buzzwords for 2009:aporkalypseUndue worry in response to swine flu. Includes unnecessary acts like removing nonessential kisses from Mexican telenovelas and the mass slaughter of pigs in Egypt.atheyAn atheist. Usually derogatory.birtherA person who believes that Barack Obama was not born in the United States and therefore can’t be president.bonus taxA proposed levy on bonuses given to employees of companies that received federal bailout money. Related terms included botax, a proposed levy on cosmetic procedures. It would be used to help pay for health care reform and is a play on Botox, a trade name for a substance used to smooth skin wrinkles. There was also cow tax, what critics call a proposed fee for methane emissions. Would it apply to methane-emitting cows, they wonder?car toneMusic or ambient noise proposed for use by electric cars, whose quietness otherwise makes them go unnoticed by pedestrians.Cash for ClunkersA government program in which older automobiles are exchanged for pollution credits or rebates on newer and more fuel-efficient models. First popular in 1990 but resurgent in 2009.ChimericaThe intertwined economies of China and the United States, which together dominate the world economy. Popularized by Niall Ferguson in his book “The Ascent of Money.”conflict mineralsGold, tin, tungsten and tantalum, widely used in electronic devices and commonly mined in politically unstable countries or regions. Related to conflict diamonds.crash blossomA headline that can be misconstrued, like “Shark Attacks Puzzle Experts.” Will Shortz is not in jeopardy; the sharks are just confounding scientists.death panelA supposed committee of doctors and/or bureaucrats who would decide which patients receive treatment, ostensibly leaving the rest to die. Also deather, someone who believes erroneously that the government would have death panels under health care reform.Dracula sneezeCovering the mouth with the crook of the elbow when sneezing, like Dracula hiding his face with a cape.drive like a CullenTo drive like a bat out of hell, like a member of the Cullen family in the “Twilight” vampire books by Stephenie Meyer.Government MotorsA nickname for General Motors, which is now majority owned by the federal government.El StiffoGov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California said he wasn’t El Stiffo, meaning a colorless character, after he was criticized for brandishing a large knife in a video promoting the sale of state property to raise money.gaymarry, gay-marryTo marry someone of the same sex. Also used hyperbolically to mean to form an unconventional relationship, as in, “I love my new cellphone so much I want to gay-marry it.”Great RecessionA reference to the current economic downturn. Used at least a few times for every recession since 1980, but never with such vigor as now.green shootsSigns of an economic recovery or of a company’s financial turnaround.heinieA pronunciation of H1N1, the swine flu virus.I’mma let you finishPart of Kanye West’s interruption of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards, a widely popular joke meme on the Internet.jeggingsJean leggings.mancessionA recession that affects men more than women. Also hecession.meepAn exclamation used disruptively or nonsensically by young people. From Beaker of “The Muppet Show.”mini-MadoffA person who perpetrates a Ponzi scheme smaller than Bernie Madoff’s.netbookAn inexpensive portable computer, usually smaller than a laptop but larger than a smartphone, intended mainly for use with the Internet.OctomomNadya Suleman, who gave birth to octuplets in January.orphan booksVolumes still in copyright but out of print and unavailable for sale, and whose copyright holders cannot be found. Rose in 2007 but peaked this year with the fierce discussion over the proposed Google Books settlement.public optionA government-run health insurance program proposed as part of the health care legislation making its way through Congress.sextingThe sending of sexual messages or pictures by mobile telephone.social distancingStaying away from other people so as not to catch or spread the flu. Common since late 2005 but surging in 2009.swine flu partyA gathering held so people can be infected by a mild form of swine flu, in theory creating antibodies against more dangerous forms. Such a practice is universally discouraged by doctors.Tea PartyAn organized gathering of antitax, antigovernment and/or anti-Obama protestors. Also teabagger, a derogatory name for attendees of Tea Parties, probably coined in allusion to a sexual practice.TentherA person who believes the federal government is mostly illegal because it usurps rights that belong to the states, in violation of the 10th Amendment, which reads, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”torture memosBush administration documents that secretly authorized the torture of suspected terrorists.vookA digital book that includes some video in its text.warmistSomeone who believes that the earth is jeopardized by becoming warmer. Shortened from global warmist and used mainly by people who are skeptical about global warming.wise Latina womanA term used by Judge Sonia Sotomayor in a speech before she was a Supreme Court justice, suggesting to some observers that she believed ethnicity and gender had a role in determining law.ununbiumThe temporary name of a newly found element, Uub for short. It comes from the Latin for the element’s number, 112. Grant Barrett is the editorial director of the online dictionary Wordnik.com and co-host of the syndicated public radio show “A Way With Words.”
I prefer "Flying Pig Flue" since it involves both avian and porcine strains of the flue.Also, a few nits to pick here. "meep" does not have beeker as it's exclusive origin, as people have made sharp, peeping / meeping / squeaking noises when surprised for quite a while.Given that the nature heath care "reform" is constantly in flux, and has yet to actually be enacted we do not know for a fact that there will, in fact, NOT be people who die due to rationing of health care. So to say that the idea that it will, or may, happen is erroneous, is jumping the gun. It would instead be better to say that those who -use- the term believe "deathers" to be erroneous in their opinions.
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