The dreadful neologisms just keep pouring in, almost as if I were a bad boy this year and get these things instead of lumps of coal at Christmas. In just a few days I’ve accumulated four words that should be ruthlessly expunged from the literature and from the vocabulary of thinking people. Three of them come from the fount of bad writing—HuffPost—but one comes from Marie Claire, a fashion magazine. Click on each screenshot to go to the article.
The first one is particularly odious:
1.) “Gift” as a verb. Since when do we need to use the word “gift” as a verb instead of simply “give”. You could argue that “Well, gift means giving a present as opposed to other things you could be giving.” My response: “Take a number and kiss my tuchas: the context tells you the meaning.” Here’s one example from HuffPost:
Sadly, “gift” as a verb is so firmly ensconced in the argot that I fear it will be with us forever.
2.) “Tea”, meaning “gossip”. This is a term much beloved by Generation Xers (okay Xer), but it’s not useful, for it’s the grammatical equivalent of virtue flaunting. Using it tells the reader or listener, “If you understand this usage, you’re as cool as I am.” And so we have “spill the tea” for “divulging gossip”, and ludicrous headlines like the following.
(By the way, the fact that PuffHo even publishes articles like this shows how pathetic they are.) This one takes the metaphor farther by rating how titillating the gossip is on a scale from “room temp to scalding”:
3.) “Insta” for “Instagram”. One of the more useless platforms of social media is Instagram—basically a platform for showing yourself off or for making money by showing off you using somebody else’s products. Now that’s not always true of everyone, but it’s a general truth the whole world knows. And “Insta”, as a repugnant contraction like “fam” (for “family”), has given rise to the deplorable phenomenon of “influencers”, which I’ve mentioned in this series before.
Often “Insta” is a noun referring to the site, but, even worse, it can be a verb—as in the subheading of the article below:
To me, the world would be a better place if Instagram were to vanish. I can see uses for Facebook, like connecting with old friends, and even for Twitter, like posting cat photos or breaking news, but the only use I see for Instagram is to flaunt yourself before the world and, if you’re female, often en déshabillé. I believe even I have an Instagram account, but I assure you that I didn’t set it up nor do I post on it. Somebody else fabricated it.
4.) “Shoppable.” If I mentioned this word, and asked you what it meant, what would you say? I would have answered with a question: “A venue where you would be able to shop, like a ‘shoppable’ food exposition?” Wrong! It apparently means “something that even you are able to buy”, as in this headline from Marie Claire. Yes, for only £395, you lesser mortals of the female persuasion can own a pair of the same shoes that the Duchess of Cambridge wore during the holidays.
The word sounds ugly and out of place, and would be so even if it were moved before the words “Green Emmy Shoes”. My own suggestion would have been: “Where to buy Kate Middleton’s Green Emmy Shoes from her Sandringham Walk”, but that wouldn’t have been so hip.
Now you know what to do: all of us are nurturing pet peeves about certain words or phrases. Air your grievances below.