Say What? Freshly Coined Words From 1998






Uplift anxiety.

The preceding words are freshly coined. They came into wide use in 1998 and thus may turn up in our dictionaries. How many are you familiar with?

-- The first means "searching the Internet for occurrences of your own name."

-- The second means "decision-making ability paralyzed by over-exposure to overwhelming amounts of information, a symptom of `information fatigue syndrome.' " That last, you may recall, is another recent concoction.

-- Zippergate, as you might suspect, comes from the Clinton-Starr conflict and is yet another reference to Watergate, the origin of all "gates," or political scandals. Variations include Monicagate and fornigate.

-- Fashionista is "a devotee of the cutting edge of haute couture - in extreme cases, a `fashion victim.' " Fashion victim, of course, is a relatively new expression.

-- Post-rock. We ought to know this one. It comes out of Chicago and means "eclectic, experimental music" that combines "rock, jazz, avante-gard classical, etc."

-- Uplift anxiety is "a U.S. term for the psychological problems that arise from being cured of depression." Only in America, it seems, can people become upset from being up after being way, way down.

The words and definitions are provided by the Oxford University Press, the publisher of several dictionaries that bear the Oxford brand name, including the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary, which is viewed by linguists and word mavens as the premier English dictionary.

We are aware that the English language is constantly growing. Here's how the Oxford folks try to keep up:

Each month, Oxford's widespread observers collect an average of more than 18,000 new English words and meanings from around the world. The words are fed into the Oxford Database of World English, the source of the Oxford dictionaries.

The Oxford New Words Team then, we are told, "monitors this stream of new vocabulary, researching thoroughly to determine which words have become significant enough in the language to require a place in Oxford dictionaries."

The Oxford people have selected 62 words for a list they think offers "a fascinating snapshot of the past 12 months" and may make the final cut for future dictionaries.

Like ego-surfing, many are related to the brave new world of the Internet. Others are:

-- Cybersquatter. A person "who registers well-known company names as Internet addresses in order to sell them, for profit, to the company involved."

-- Cyberwidow. The "unfortunate partner of a habitual Internet user." Do you think it odd that the alternative, "cyberwidower," is not on the list?

-- Web rage. Growing out of "road rage," this is anger "provoked by slow Internet access, for which an online counseling service was set up this year."

-- Microphobes: "Opponents of Microsoft . . ."

A number of words arose in other countries because of things specific to those countries. For example:

-- Domophobia. From the United Kingdom, it describes "severe hostility to the Millennium Dome" the UK is building to commemorate the millennium.

-- Elk test. "First adopted in Scandinavia to assess the reaction to animals' straying onto roads," this "evaluates a car's response to sudden high-speed turns."

-- Shibuya-kei: "A style of Japanese pop music, now successful on the international scene, which copies Western styles in an unorthodox way."