I’m in Grumpy Old Man mode today, as it’s broiling hot and I was just outside, singeing in my own fur. And there’s lots of noise outside my office because they’re not only redoing the roof, but digging up the sidewalk to replace the ceiling of an underground tunnel to the adjacent building. TONS of annoying and disruptive noise!
So, you get to hear four words or phrases that I can’t stand. I managed to find all four, used in headlines, in about two minutes, just by doing a Google search for the word and adding “Huffington Post.” For if the PuffHo does anything, it tries too hard to be cool and current—or maybe it’s because most of the editors are privileged white women, clearly not long out of school, who have decided to appeal to their readership by using the Young Folk’s Argot.
Now I know I can’t stop the progress of language, whatever that means, but I can highlight words and phrases that rankle. Here are my choices for today.
- “Epic” should be reserved for things that are related to an epic, i.e., something in the grand scale, preferably related to a poem or tale. Even the Oxford English Dictionary doesn’t sanction its current use: as “something out of the ordinary” (i.e., perhaps a notch above “amazeballs”). Here PuffHo applies it to a fricking PIE:
- The adjectival “genius”: The OED lists its use as an adjective as “colloquial,” and I can almost tolerate that, but NOT when applied to something like how to recycle Parmesan rinds:
- “Throwing shade” is a phrase I can’t stand to hear. It means to publicly criticize or denigrate, although it originally referred pejoratively to the shade-thrower, not the throwee. Now, however, it simply means “criticize” or “go after.” It’s used only by those who want to show how hip they are, as here.
- “Rocking a ___”. To “rock something” means to use or wear an item in an attractive way; as far as I know, it usually refers to clothing, as in the unbearably au courant headline below. As George Orwell pointed out in his famous essay on the English language, if you use a metaphor like this, it should convey something tangible, bringing a real image to mind. “Rock” conveys a misguided image. So when I hear of someone “rocking a dress,” I envision them cradling the dress in their arms and rocking it like a baby. When I hear the phrase, the soles of my shoes curl up.
Can we use them all in one short paragraph? Of course! Here goes: “Don’t throw shade on Professor Ceiling Cat for his genius cowboy boots. They’re epic, d00d*, and he’s rocking ’em!”
*Another disgusting word, especially when spelled with zeroes instead of “o”s. It’s invariably meant to denigrate men, and by women who would never stand to be referred to as “chicks.”
I know most of you have words or expressions that rankle you just as much. Do share them below.