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Apr 11, 2016
This week’s theme
Coined words

This week’s words
snowclone
ecdysiast
petrichor
exaptation
blet

“Language is a city to the building of which every human being brought a stone.” ~Emerson
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

A language is a very democratic thing. People who use it own it. No royalty or committee can dictate it. Some may try to dam its flow, but they rarely succeed.

If people find a word useful, they’ll use it, even if they have to borrow it from another language. If they need a word to describe something new, they will coin a word for it. Sometimes they repurpose existing words for new purposes. So grows language.

Like people, the only languages that do not grow are those that are dead. This week we’ll feature five coined words. Well, all words are coined words in the sense that someone used them for the first time. It’s just that we know for certain who used this week’s words for the very first time and when.

snowclone

PRONUNCIATION:
(SNO-klon)

MEANING:
noun: A cliché adapted to a new use.
For example, a statement of the form “X is the new Y” (such as “Gray is the new black”). See more examples here.

ETYMOLOGY:
Coined by economics professor Glen Whitman in 2004, after the popular (but erroneous) idea that Eskimos have many words for snow, which is extended by others into the form: If Eskimos have N words for snow, X surely have N words for Y.

USAGE:
“The next time you read about a ‘hidden epidemic’, be aware that you are drifting into a snowclone: recent hidden epidemics have involved chlamydia, illiteracy, autism, and gambling.”
David Rowan; The Next Big Thing; The Times (London, UK); Dec 3, 2005.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
No greater mistake can be made than to think that our institutions are fixed or may not be changed for the worse. ... Increasing prosperity tends to breed indifference and to corrupt moral soundness. Glaring inequalities in condition create discontent and strain the democratic relation. The vicious are the willing, and the ignorant are unconscious instruments of political artifice. Selfishness and demagoguery take advantage of liberty. The selfish hand constantly seeks to control government, and every increase of governmental power, even to meet just needs, furnishes opportunity for abuse and stimulates the effort to bend it to improper uses. ... The peril of this nation is not in any foreign foe! We, the people, are its power, its peril, and its hope! -Charles Evans Hughes, jurist and statesman (11 Apr 1862-1948)

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