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Lex maniac

Investigating changes in American English vocabulary over the last 40 years

Most weeks I write about established expressions, but this time I’d like to present a few novelties or near-novelties for your approval that might fill a crevice or two in the lexicon. All of the phrases proposed and defined below are new — or at least unheralded — and possibly useful, or even amusing, additions to the language. See what you think.


When the boss is an . . . . You see where I’m going with this. (This one isn’t new; it’s been on Urban Dictionary since 2009. But I thought of it independently, and I like it. Celebrity-watchers might prefer “paparazzhole,” but it’s a little strained.)

Eat down

Consume a certain amount, but not all, of a given portion of food, especially leftovers. Complements “eat up.” As in, “I couldn’t finish the leftover broccoli, but at least I ate it down.”

Five-minute expert

Someone who has spent a little time Googling a topic and thinks they know everything worth knowing about it. A lot of people really believe that a few minutes’ poking around on the web conveys a thorough grasp of almost any subject. Five-minute experts are especially quick to shut you down if you try to tell them something significant about the field in question, because whatever you have to say, they already know.


Long “i.” Not just for newspapers any more, now they’re splashed all over finer web sites near you.


Maybe “techpriest.” We’ve all had computers that started acting possessed: incomprehensible error messages, fifteen minutes to open a file, windows popping up at random, that sort of thing. In such cases, a mere techie won’t do; you need a texorcist — or rather, your techie must shed his mild-mannered exterior and drive out the demons. He attacks with antivirals, incantations, mumbo-jumbo and ritual ctrl-alt-deletes until the evil spirit leaves. Could also be applied to an especially skilled computer savant who gains a reputation for fixing the most wayward machines.

I can’t figure out how to spell this word. “Techsorcist” is impossible, but “texorcist” looks too much like Texas, text, or tenor saxophonist. I resisted “texpert” because it sounds lame.

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