MyStoryYourStory: Do you know a mouse potato?

By Paula Damon

Every so often, words are added to the English dictionary, mirroring the times, like “ringtone,” “mouse potato” and “spyware.” While some may know these terms new to Miriam Webster Dictionary, others may need a little help.

A mouse potato is someone who spends a lot of time on the computer. Couch potato? Mouse potato? Get it?

Just about everyone knows a “ringtone” is the sound a cell phone plays for incoming calls.

The Merriam-Webster people just got around to placing “spyware” in their lexicon. Spyware, which has been around for a while, is software that installs itself on your computer with no help from anyone, except, of course, those who are spying on you. Spyware secretly gathers information about your Internet use, passwords – you name it, just about anything saved on your PC.

The latest from pop culture newly entered are “soul patch” and “supersize.” Soul patch is a mini-beard trimmed to a little patch directly below the lower lip and above the chin.

With 50 million people eating fast food daily and with the proliferation of fast food advertising, most people know what it means to “supersize.” However, for cave dweller out there, “supersize” is a verb used by McDonald’s Restaurant, meaning “make it an extra-large portion.”

More new terms include “label mate,” “Ollie” and “wave pool.” A “label mate” defines a singer or musician who records for the same company as another singer or musician.

An “Ollie” is a skateboarding trick where the rider and board simultaneously leap into the air in a “Look, Mom, no hands!” moment.

A “wave pool” is a specially designed swimming pool that generates waves as big as ocean waves. Really? Now that’s a pool I want to try!

Plus, get a load of these trendy terms your parents or grandparents probably didn’t use 20 or more years ago, but are now searchable in Webster:

A “drama queen” is someone who uses excessive drama by overreacting in everyday situations. Most of us have at least one drama queen in our lives. A “unibrow” is when a person’s eyebrows are connected by facial hair between eyebrows, forming what looks like one long eyebrow.

“Agritourism” is a favorite of mine. This is an agriculturally-based business that attracts visitors and charges them a fee to visit farms and ranches. “Big-box” stores are major retail chain stores. And then there’s “aquascape,” which is underwater landscaping.

When I first heard the term “sandwich generation,” I thought of fast food. But I was dead wrong. The sandwich generation is a generation of people who care for their aging parents while supporting their own children. According to Pew Research, more than one in eight Americans ages 40 to 60 are raising children and caring for parents. Perhaps you are in the sandwich generation or know someone who is.

If you have a texting youngster around, you already know what “BFF” means (best friends forever).

Surprisingly, there are those who have never heard of “Craigslist.” It’s a free online classified ad service.

More terms just included in the dictionary…

“Geocaching” is a treasure hunt game on the internet. “Multitasking” is the ability to do more than one thing at a time.

In our increasingly health conscious lifestyle, “organic” is becoming popular in supermarkets. This type of fruits, vegetables, eggs, milk, cheese, meat and fish are produced without drugs, hormones and synthetic chemicals.

Some of you may have demonstrated “road rage” or have been a victim of it. Road rage is when a driver loses his or her cool. It’s common in big cities, like Los Angeles, New York and even in little big cities, like Omaha.

“Speed dating” is a matchmaking system where singles are brought together to meet a lot of possible dates in 10-minute intervals or less over a short amount of time.

If you say that you want to give a “shout-out,” you’re giving a greeting over the radio or TV to someone in the listening or viewing audience.

Recently, I’ve heard some terms you won’t find in any dictionary but could someday, like…

“Marmagedon” describes the current scarcity of marmalade on Australia. “Stalkarazzi” is an aptly given nickname for the paparazzi.

One that made me chuckle came from a college student who, when describing an unpleasant task her mother gave her, quipped sarcastically, “I was ‘voluntold’ I had to do it.”

As we create words to keep up with our changing times, we are developing a method for dealing with life itself.

Looking back through old dictionaries could serve as a carbon dating, of sorts. Only instead of examining decaying carbon-14, we would be studying the vocabulary of humankind.


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