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Today's Word



Oct 2, 2017
This week’s theme
Words that sound taboo, but aren’t

This week’s words

Photo: Rasulovs/iStock

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with Anu Garg

Once, when my daughter Ananya was in high school, I took her to the engineering fair here at the University of Washington in Seattle. Students were demo-ing their projects, which ranged from practical to whimsical.

In one such project, by a sophomore student in computer science, a cellphone was hung from a string above a jar of water. The string went over a pulley to some mechanical contraption that was controlled by an electronic circuit. The point of the project escapes me now, but when you pressed some buttons in the circuit, the string lowered the phone in the water and the accompanying LED display flashed the letters FML.

The student answered my questions about her project, but when I asked her what FML meant, she ignored it. I assumed she didn’t hear me in all the noise around us, so I asked again, this time a little louder, and this time she explained something else.

It was then my daughter elbowed me and whispered the secret. The abbreviation stood for F---* My Life. What a sheltered life I lead! And what would I do without a teenager to help explain the world to me?

This week we bring you FML, Five Mild Language-bits, words that look taboo, but aren’t.

*We’d spell out the word, but many schools and corporations would then block this email and you’d be left with having to look for a teenager to explain the abbreviation to you.


(KOK-shoor, kok-SHOOR)

adjective: Arrogantly or presumptuously overconfident.

From cock (a euphemism for god) + sure, from Old French seur, from Latin securus (secure). Earliest documented use: 1520.

“Here, then, is the new mood in Brussels: confident but not cocksure.”
Mr Juncker’s Indian Summer; The Economist (London, UK); Sep 16, 2017.

See more usage examples of cocksure in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

When I despair, I remember that all through history, the way of truth and love has always won. There have been murderers and tyrants, and for a time they can seem invincible. But in the end they always fall. Think of it, always. -Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (2 Oct 1869-1948) [This quotation is misattributed. See details here.]

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