New Words

Fisk (or fisking). I had never seen this word before, then last week, bam, two or three times in a couple of days. In this post, for instance. It turns out to have its own entry in the Wikipedia. The word sprang from right-wing bloggers who rushed to whack British reporter Robert Fisk for displaying left-wing tendencies in his work. It’s expanded now to encompass any long and detailed (or tiresome and tendentious) rebuttal to another journalist’s or blogger’s long and detailed (or tiresome and tendentious) argument.

Emo. According to some online resources, I’m about 20 years late picking up on this one. Nevertheless, I only heard this word for the first time about three months ago, when The Resident Teen was filling us in on a musical genre he had recently become enamored of. As you might guess, emo has something to do with the word “emotion”; the word encompasses lyrics full of personal reflection (one exhibit: Elliott Smith; I’m especially enamored of his song “Independence Day,” which I think you need to hear to appreciate), an attitude, and a lifestyle. Here’s a semi-scholarly take on it, as well as a more-than-semi-snotty one. Next: Brace yourself for screamo.

Thug. You’re probably thinking this is a violent, threatening person in the mold of bad Iraqis, street toughs, or Rep. Tom DeLay. You’d be right, but you’d be wrong. Thug in the new sense is a term of approbation for anyone who shows an extreme degree of nerve, skill, strength, or courage (or, for extra points, all of the above). A recent example of this kind of thuggery on Fox’s “24”: Agent Jack Bauer goes into a terrorist stronghold, alone against 16 “hostiles,” to rescue his woman (and her dad, who happens to be the secretary of defense). Jack and Mr. Secretary wipe out most of the evildoers, leaving just a few to be mopped up by late-arriving Marines. That makes them co-thugs. But Jack was really the main thug. Another example: Lance Armstrong was a thug on every mountain stage of last year’s Tour de France. He was mad thuggin’ — whoops, I’m losing control — on the 17th stage, when he rode down one of his opponents in the final kilometer and charged past him at the line.

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