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From 'Beezin' To 'Smugshrug,' Grant Barrett's Buzzwords And Phrases Of 2014


Grant Barrett of the public radio show “A Way With Words” is known for his annual list of the words of the year. There are plenty of familiar ones – things like “ice bucket challenge” and “common core.” But what about "babymetal" or "beezin"? Barrett discusses what turned his ear in 2014. 

Interview Highlights: Grant Barrett ...

... on the meaning of "babymetal" and "beezin":

"Babymetal" is a proper noun for a Japanese heavy metal band that's fronted by a bunch of cute Japanese girls. They have all the trappings of popular music: just great clothes and makeup and great dance moves, but the music is really intense and very dark and it's a weird mish-mash of styles. So I threw it on the list because the popped up on my radar and I thought they were worth a mention.

"Beezin'" I think is an invented trend - television stations across the country reported that children are beezin' - taking Burt's Bees lipbalm and putting it on their eyelids to enhance their high when they drink or smoke certain substances. I'm pretty sure it's fake. But, again, it was talked about a lot and used a lot, so it made the list."

... On what it takes for a word to make the list:

"There are two things: I don't have dictionaries to sell; I just do this for fun. I don't have to say I'm going to include these words in the next edition. And then the second thing is I work really hard to make sure that I observe language happening among people who are not like me."

... On a favorite word from the 2014 list:

"I don't have a favorite. But I will say that I like 'black-out poetry,' which is when you take a newspaper or book or some printed matter and you work your way down a single page and you black out most of the words. But, the words you've left, the ones that are unmarked, form a sentence or an idea or almost a haiku - a bit of poetry - and they leave you with a bit of a message that wasn't intended by the original author. It's really creative and some of the stuff is beautiful as well."

Barrett's Buzzwords and Phrases of 2014

ammosexualammo-sexual noun An extreme gun enthusiast. Used as early as 2004, but popularized in June by the television show Real Time with Bill Maher: "Guns aren't just a tool of last resort. They're awesome. That's why people stroke them. And name them, and take pictures with them. You guys aren't just firearm enthusiasts. You're ammosexuals."

anonymish adjective Seemingly anonymous. Used to describe smartphone apps and other software that give the appearance of hiding users' identities and personal information while actually revealing them intentionally (to a small set of chosen friends, to the software publisher or phone manufacturer, or to others) or unintentionally (through software flaws, security breaches, or other problems).

Babymetal proper noun A Japanese metal band that combines features of hard-driving heavy rock with a kind of Japanese cute-pop known as "idol," and with choreography. Released in February, the band's first full album Babymetal peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's "world" chart and at 12 on its U.S. hard rock chart.

basic adjective A general pejorative variously meaning common, ordinary, plain, socially awkward, unattractive, uninteresting, ignorant, pathetic, out of fashion, uncool, etc. 

beezingbeezin noun Rubbing Burt's Bees lip balm on one's eyelids in order to feel the tingly effects of peppermint. The term is from 2010 or earlier, but it burst into larger public consciousness in April when a moral panic flooded news outlets which were claiming teens beezed to enhance the intensity of drugs; however, evidence appears to show that the idea beezing was a joke taken seriously by out-of-touch media.

Beyoncé voter noun Single women, who supposedly tend to vote as a bloc. Probably coined by Fox News's Jesse Watters on the Fox TV show Outnumbered after Beyoncé's 2009 song "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)."

blackout poetry noun A form of creative writing in which most of the words on a published page, such as from a newspaper or book, are obscured, leaving behind isolated words that can be read as coherent sentences or phrases to express ideas.

budtender noun A person who specializes in serving marijuana to consumers, especially in legal dispensaries. Coined after the word bartender, though marijuana aficionados often describe the budtender's role as being more like that of a sommelier's. A budtender helps a consumer choose a particular marijuana strain or mixture by taking into account the buyer's mood, health, lifestyle, and other factors.

can't even verb phrase To be unable to concentrate, act, or do some other unnamed task. Often used as an expression of disbelief, or of unwillingness or inability to respond: "He said he would steal his mom's car to come see me! I can't even!" With can't keeping its role as a modal auxiliary verb, even is (often jokingly) reanalyzed as verb instead of an adverb. The positive construction, can even, exists but is rare by comparison.

cloud-chase verb To produce large clouds of vapor with e-cigarettes, sometimes in an artful or competitive way.

columbusing noun Cultural appropriation, especially the act of a white person claiming to discover things taken from minority cultures, much in the same way that Christopher Columbus is said to have "discovered" the Americas. Popularized in June by a College Humor comedic film.

Common Core noun A shortened form of Common Core State Standards Initiative, a set of educational standards for elementary and high schools adopted in some form by most U.S. states. Although it existed for several years, Common Core assessments were first undertaken in 2014, which led to much public discussion about the standards.

conscious uncoupling noun A divorce or romantic separation by polite mutual agreement. Used by actress Gwyneth Paltrow on her website to describe her separation from rock musician Chris Martin of the band Coldplay.

creepypasta noun Widely circulated scary internet stories. Coined from copypasta, text that is repeatedly copied and pasted in many places around the internet. In June, the website Creepypasta, a community formed around such stories, is claimed to have been the source of a story about the character "Slender Man" that led two 12-year-old girls to try to kill a friend.

devo max noun Short for "maximum devolution," it is a reenvisioning of Scotland's relationship to the United Kingdom, including full control over tax and fiscal policy. The concept is being advocated after Scotland failed to vote itself independent in September.

die-in noun A peaceful public protest in which participants lie down, sometimes as an intentional obstruction to automobiles or people. While not new, these protests drew attention 2014 as hundreds of thousands of people protested the shooting deaths of unarmed black men and children by police.

Ebola noun A deadly virus that, in 2014, had a huge outbreak in West Africa that killed thousands.

emoji noun A set of pictures used in inline text in lieu of, or to supplement, text. Although they've existed for years (first in Japan), a variety of software updates to operating systems and communications software in 2014 made emojis easier to use and available to more systems.

Fappening, The noun The online frenzy surrounding the August release by hackers of hundreds of nude or revealing photos of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

flee adjective Fashionable, well-dressed, or attractive. Widely used among young black Americans. "When you get flee but show up late and can't get into the show!"

Gamergate noun A complicated ongoing public dispute. One side: A mostly male group claims that reviews of video games are biased by sexual relationships between female game-makers and the journalists who cover them. On another side: Women who research or talk publicly about sexist and misogynistic portrayals of women in video games and in the video-game-making community. And on another side, a publicly abusive faction of men's rights advocates and anti-feminists who have joined the debate for their own purposes.

-ghazi suffix Depending on context, connoting either a sense of genuine scandal, or a sense of manufactured scandal or outrage. From Benghazi, the second-largest city in Libya and now a shorthand for a dispute over how the Obama administration and the CIA handled attacks in 2012 on U.S. diplomatic facilities there, and their aftermath. Four people were killed in the attacks. Examples: GamerGhazi, Solyndraghazi, Umbrellaghazi.

hamburger menu noun An icon made of three stacked, identical, parallel lines used on mobile interfaces (mainly Android) which, when clicked, shows an array of navigation options.

health goth noun A type of person who combines the lifestyle of goths — black clothing and makeup, heavy and aggressive music, an interest in fringe subcultures — with the pursuit of a high level of fitness.

Heartbleed proper noun A vulnerability in widely used software that encrypts internet traffic. Coined, shortly after the vulnerability was revealed in April, by Ossi Herrala, a software developer for the digital security firm Codenomicon in Helsinki.

hot take noun An opinion piece quickly reported, written, and published in response to a news event.

ice bucket challenge noun A fundraising activity in which people are given a time limit to either donate money to a charity or to make and share a video of pouring ice water over their heads. They then challenge others to do the same.

invasivore noun A person who eats invasive species, such as periwinkles, wild hogs, or Asian shore crabs.

ISISISILDaeshDa'ish proper noun All names for the same jihadist military group in Iraq, variously known in long form as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and the LevantDaesh, mainly used by the French, is an approximate acronym for the Romanized version of the Arabic al-Dawla al-Islamiya al-Iraq al-Sham, which means the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant."

lumbersexual noun A man who adopts the dress and facial hair of the stereotype of a woodsy, outdoors man, usually at substantial expense and with great attention to hygiene, style, and clothing. Also called a metrojack.

neonics noun A shortening of neonicotinoids, which are chemicals used in pesticides. Numerous organizations seek to reduce use of these pesticides in the US and Canada because they may be implicated in the loss of pollinating bee colonies, among other possible detrimental consequences.

normcore noun A supposed trend of choosing to ignore fashionable or expensive clothing and instead adopting an intentionally ordinary, inexpensive personal style from cheap off-the-shelf brands. Invented by "trend forecasting collective" K-Hole.

#notallmen A hashtag used defensively by men who believe that discussions of rape, sexual abuse, sexism, and misogyny portray all men as perpetrators. In response, the hashtag #yesallwomen is used by women who tell their stories of being victims of sexual crimes, violence, and harassment, or of gender bias.

on fleek adjective phrase Looking good, just right, in good shape. Almost the entire trend of using on fleek stems from a June 21, 2014, video by Peaches Monroee, who talked about her eyebrows being on fleek. The video has been viewed millions of times and generated parodies, mash-ups, and lots of commentary.

pairage noun A term proposed by Utah State Representative Kraig Powell to refer to same-sex marriages. Powell, a Republican, is opposed to them.

plastiglomerate noun A type of stone made of melted plastic, beach sediment, basaltic lava fragments, and organic debris. First named in the journal of the Geological Society of America in June.

platisher noun A media publisher which makes a content management system and gives users access to it to post their own content. A combination of the words platform 'the low-level software upon which user-facing software and websites run' and publisher, with the meaning 'a company that makes and sells software,' as well as the meaning 'a company that creates and distributes print, physical, or digital media, such as newspapers or music.' The word was immediately reviled by people employed in the platishing industry.

polar vortex noun A very large, spinning area of very cold air in the polar regions of the Earth. Twice in 2014, polar vortexes shifted to bring super-cold air to the United States.

poor door noun A entrance meant for use by residents of lower-cost units in a housing complex otherwise inhabited by tenants paying luxury rates who have their own building entrance. In 2014, poor doors in two New York City housing developments caused outrage and resulted in political vows to stop the practice.

rekt noun Drunk, high, or tired to the point of impairment. An intentional misspelling of wrecked. The term has had a years-long build to a strong peak in 2014.

satellite handshake noun A kind of systematic check-in and confirmation between two electronic devices, usually meant to ensure that they can share data. The term was frequently used in March when Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared while traveling between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing. Handshakes are widely used in many kinds of digital communications.

sea lioning noun The constant interruption by strangers on the internet who act as if they are owed explanations for something that contradicts their opinions. Derived from David Malki's Wondermark comic.

selfie stick noun A long rod meant to hold a camera at a distance to get a wide-view shot of oneself and the surroundings.

SJW or social justice warrior noun A derisive term used mainly by men's-rights activist and opponents to feminism to refer to feminists, especially ones who share stories and discuss sexism, sexual violence, and misogyny on social media sites such as Tumblr.

smugshrug noun The emoticon ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. It expresses a careless or resigned attitude, the equivalent of saying, "Oh, well!"

surfbort noun Beyoncé's pronunciation of "surboard" in her song "Drunk in Love," which was promptly turned into jokes and memes.

trigger warning noun A notice put at the beginning of a comment, news article, radio segment, or other narrative that warns an audience that certain content may disturb some people.

Turn down for what? To "turn up" is to party — dance, get excited, high, or drunk, so this phrase means, "Why should I stop having fun?" It's a repeated line from the 2013 song "Turn Down for What" by DJ Snake and Lil Jon.

turntturnt upturned up adjective Drunk, high, super-excited, or having a lot of fun.

Umbrella Revolution noun Democracy protests in Hong Kong started in September in response to the Chinese government's insistence that it pick all candidates for upcoming elections.

V to VV2Vvehicle to vehicle adjective phrase Used to describe a type of computerized communication between automobiles, usually about things such as location and speed.

web rooming noun Researching a product online and then purchasing it in a brick-and-mortar store. It's the opposite of show-rooming, comparing merchandise in a real store, then buying one's choice online.

wet case noun An Ebola patient who exhibits the most severe symptoms, including discharge of bodily fluids. A dry case is an infected person who is showing no or only mild symptoms.

yass exclamation and interjection While the number of esses on the end may vary, all spellings mean strong agreement. Brought to greater heights of usage by the Nicki Minaj song off her 2014 album Pinkprint. Related to the earlier and more widespread aww yiss 'oh yeah.'

Justin Martin is KERA’s local host of All Things Considered, anchoring afternoon newscasts for KERA 90.1. Justin grew up in Mannheim, Germany, and avidly listened to the Voice of America and National Public Radio whenever stateside. He graduated from the American Broadcasting School, and further polished his skills with radio veteran Kris Anderson of the Mighty 690 fame, a 50,000 watt border-blaster operating out of Tijuana, Mexico. Justin has worked as holiday anchor for the USA Radio Network, serving the U.S. Armed Forces Network. He’s also hosted, produced, and engineered several shows, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee on 660 KSKY.