The Week in Words Also-Rans for February, 2013

Here’s the words that, while interesting, were not Week-worthy:

February 1: mot-diese, Captcha, kanban, windowing.

adverse product mix

Ford Motor Co.’s stock is getting run over today, as investors worry that the auto maker’s profit growth will plateau this year in part because of what CFO Bob Shanks referred to as “adverse product mix.” That phrase is a car business euphemism for a condition in which an auto maker sells more low-profit cars and small sport utility wagons, and fewer of its larger, more expensive models.

The opposite of “adverse product mix” is the “ideal” or “optimal product mix.”

For Ford, Small Cars Mean Smaller Profit, January 29


Africom declined to discuss any plans for deploying drones—which are sometimes called “ISR,” in military parlance—to Niger.

“ISR” stands for “intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance,” referring to the types of tasks the drones are supposed to be used for.

U.S. to Expand Role in Africa, January 29


Stimpmeters languished until the 1970s, when turf-maintenance techniques began to push the limit of what grasses could tolerate and superintendents needed a tool to better monitor greens and to help keep them consistent across a course. The most meticulous superintendents stimp a sampling of greens every day.

The Stimpmeter is named after its designer, golfer Edward Stimpson. They are sold only to professional golf course superintendents.

Ta-Da! Stimpmeter Makeover, January 25


Her focus is on Shamil, the legendary Muslim guerrilla who resisted Russian conquest from 1834 to 1859. “To the Russians,” she writes, “he was known as the Red Devil; he wore a crimson tcherkesska [a kind of long coat], his beard was red, his legend steeped in blood and daring.”

According to a 1904 article by Joseph A. Baer, a lieutenant in the US Cavalry, the tcherkesska is a below-knee-length, close-fitting coat with red or blue shoulder straps, which has pockets on each side of the chest for gun cartridges.

Max Boot on books about guerrillas, January 25

bokeh porn

The great advantage of a more light-sensitive camera is that you can make radical adjustments to the aperture, allowing filmmakers to indulge in what’s become known as “bokeh porn”—shallow depth-of-field shots in which sharply defined subjects are placed against artily smeared backgrounds.

The word “bokeh” comes from a Japanese word meaning “blur” and is pronounced “BOH-kay”.

Lens Flair, January 25

February 8: Alfisti, jammer, jughandle, decalcomania.


Outside the store we have a little talk about how he must be sage (the French equivalent of “being good,” which implies that the child has wisdom about the situation, and is in control of himself).

“Sage” (which is short for “sois sage”, usually translated as “be good!”) is pronounced to rhyme with the “Taj” of Taj Mahal.

How to Parent Like the French This Weekend, February 1


People have pointed to the rise of the Internet as fueling a “nerd renaissance” of sorts, making it totally OK to be a poindexter in public. But that’s because a lot of nerds are now rich, and even if money can’t buy you love, it can buy you flattery. (And company.)

The word “poindexter” meaning “nerd” supposedly comes from a character created in the late 1950s for the Felix the Cat TV cartoons — Poindexter was the smarty-pants nephew of The Professor, Felix’s arch-enemy.

Defending Nerds: Why GoDaddy’s Bar Refaeli Ad Was An Epic Fail, February 4


To describe an awkward presentation several years ago, he coined the word “fiaster”—a combination of “fiasco” and “disaster.” Mr. Durban sprinkles the word into his conversations, and “fiaster” even caught on among some Silver Lake employees, people familiar with the firm said.

Another recent blendword that includes “disaster” is the Stephen Colbert coinage “disadvertunity,” which is an advertising opportunity during a natural disaster.

The Hidden Deal Maker Behind the Dell Buyout, February 5


Scientists are divided about whether underarm sweat—which includes apocrine and eccrine sweats, along with naturally occurring bacteria —contains compounds that may have a pheromone-like affect on humans.

Apocrine comes from Greek roots meaning “to set apart” or “to separate”; eccrine comes from Greek roots meaning “to secrete,” and is also related to the root for “separate”.

Why Stress Makes You Sweat, February 4

February 15: gugak, squeezies, chillwave, anosmia.


We find Hannah and Ray outside of Cafe Grumpy’s discussing a word that Hannah believes she has just coined: ‘sexit’, or a ‘sexy exit’. The conversation moves back into the cafe where Ray rains on Hannah’s coining parade with the help of Urban Dictionary to prove that her new word isn’t actually new.

The earliest example on Urban Dictionary dates from 2008, where the word is glossed as “when someone makes an exit from a certain area, but does it in a sultry manner.”

‘Girls,’ Season 2, Episode 5, ‘One Man’s Trash’: TV Recap, February 10


Spondo’s founder and Australian chief executive Geoff Collinson explained the name Spondo came from a play on the word “Spondoolies”, which is sometimes used to describe money.

Spondoolies is a variant of the older form “spondulicks,” which dates back to at least the mid-1800s in the US. Michael Quinion (of World Wide Words) gives some plausible etymologies, such that it may come from a Greek word for a kind of shell once used as currency, or from a Greek root meaning “spine,” alluding to stacked coins looking like vertebrae.

Video Streaming Start-Up Spondo Launches Series A Raising, February 12


His violent overthrow in 1973 was preceded by vast demonstrations of citizens marching through the streets banging empty pots and pans—a form of popular protest called cacerolazos.

Cacerolazos can be translated as “casserole strikes,” and comes from Spanish roots meaning “saucepan” and “bang.”

In Venezuela, Plenty of Oil, Not Enough Food, February 11

February 22: glidepath, air gap, anthypophora, returnship.


We read of Wash’s mother, Mena, a “saltwater” slave stolen from Africa who initiates her son into the secret traditions that both whites and “countryborn” slaves fearfully refer to as “conjure”—the making of stone altars and talismanic pouches holding hair and roots that connect Wash to a spirit world inaccessible to whites.

Conjure comes from a Latin word meaning “to swear together, conspire.” Its use in the West Indies and southern US dates at least to the late 1800s.

Slave Narratives From Unlikely Sources, February 15


A vibrant yellow sauce called tucupi must be boiled for 20 minutes to eliminate its lingering natural toxicity.

Tucupi is made from the manioc root, and the raw liquid contains hydrocyanic acid (related to prussic acid).

The Year of Cooking Dangerously, February 14


That brief and unfruitful relationship—of which she claimed to have no memory—set off a pained debate in the feuilletons about cooperation, resistance and the German past.

A feuilleton is a section of a newspaper or other publication devoted to light news, criticism, gossip, fashion, and so on. It comes from a French word meaning “little leaf.”

She Regretted Nothing, February 15


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