Our American English language is constantly changing and always has been. But in today’s super-heated political/cultural climate people are quickly inventing words and terms intended to be pointed in defense of, or an attack on, other folks.
Some of this stuff is well known, but a lot is limited to the particular partisan bubble many of us live in. So, as a public service, we present a brief dictionary on some of the more colorful terms so you can tell whether you are being insulted or not.
- Astroturfing: Making it appear that an organization or movement comes spontaneously from the public, when it is actually organized and/or funded by a special interest group.
- Brittle: A person or group too easily offended, often because of insecurity,
- Catfishing: Representing yourself dishonestly, especially online. Often in terms of a relationship.
- CIS gender or CIS: Referring to people with the same gender identity as their at-birth physical sexual characteristics.
- Dog whistle: Using an emotionally impactful term intended to arouse political passions without stating specifics.
- False flag: When a person, organization or government stages a provocative event to influence public opinion or political action.
- Ghosting: Suddenly cutting off all contact or communication with another person, often in a romantic relationship.
- Micro-aggressions: A comment or act that – perhaps unintentionally – offends or intimidates another person.
- My pronouns: The increasingly popular practice of using “gender-neutral” pronouns such as “they” instead of “he” or “she” to encourage “inclusivity.” See also: “mispronoun” or “misgender.”
- OK, boomer: A vaguely condescending expression meant to dismiss the comments or actions of a person from the Baby Boom generation (born 1946 to 1964) as irrelevant to current conditions.
- RINO: Republican in Name Only. This term is rapidly disappearing in use as moderates are having trouble finding a home in the GOP.
- Snowflakes: People, usually younger folks and often specifically college students, who are easily offended and/or with a sense of entitlement.
- Socialist/socialism: The dictionary definition of socialism is ownership of the means of production by government, which could be democratic or autocratic. Very commonly misused today. Many liberals consider Social Security, public schools and fire departments examples of socialism, while many conservatives consider expanded social services such as a national medical insurance or paid family leave as socialistic.
- TERF: Trans-exclusive Radical Feminist. A term invented to stigmatize feminists who don’t accept transsexual women as “real women.”
- Triggers: Images, sounds or words that cause an intense negative emotional reaction in a person.
- Virtue-signaling: Advocating a public position (sometimes insincerely) for the purpose of appearing empathic or supportive without any actual impact.Now, don’t you feel better knowing which oversimplified verbal shorthand is further degrading the rational discussion of important issues? If you don’t, you’re nothing but a malarker. That’s someone who is more interested in surface nonsense than solving actual problems.
See? Boomers can make up words, too.
Jim Tortolano’s “Retorts” appears every other week, alternating with “Usually Reliable Sources.”