Top new English words to emerge out of 2019
Languages are not static things. They change and develop over time, adding new words or new meanings for words, and new phrases, all the time. It’s hard to catch these new words as they develop when you’re still learning, but let us give you some help.
In August 2019, musician Jason Isbell was discussing gun laws in the US on Twitter. A man named Willie McNab asked about what people who lived in the countryside were supposed to do about ’30-50 feral hogs’. It exploded, and went on and on complete with songs and remixes. When wild boars discovered a stash of cocaine in the woods in Italy in November, it started up again. This kind of reference might only work with people who spend a lot of time online.
This is a verb to describe being very obsessed with a person or celebrity. It sort of originated with rapper Eminem’s song ‘Stan’ from 2000 about a particularly obsessive fan, though it has been used in songs off and on since then. It seems to have taken off online around 10 years ago, but has got to the point where magazines use it regularly without explaining it. It generally only refers to people, you can’t stan a thing.
Obviously receipts means the piece of paper or email you receive as proof you bought something. But recently that meaning has expanded to include proving something happened. ‘She’s going to expose him, and she’s got the receipts’ means she has hard proof.
If you go online and everyone is talking about the latest episode of The Crown or lots of feral hogs or whatever, that means it’s ‘buzzy’. No doubt there are rooms at PR agencies full of people trying to come up with ‘buzzworthy’ concepts to launch online.
Spilling the tea
Another term for gossiping, or sharing details you’ve heard about someone else. Generally it means you have really good gossip, like why someone got fired or who moved in with that terrible ex-roommate of your friend. It has a connotation of being something you shouldn’t really share, but you’re about to anyway.
The overall term for all the temporary insecure on-demand jobs floating around these days. Uber drivers, sub-contracted delivery folks, virtual assistants, dog walkers, and more – some people say it’s flexible work anyone can do to fit around the rest of their lives, some people say it’s woefully underpaid and exploitive. It’s not really a new concept, but it seems the tech community has discovered it now so have given it a buzzy name. See what I did there?
When I make jokes about screwing up between English and German, that’s extremely on-brand for me as an English-speaking German learner living in Germany who writes about language. It’s a sort of nicer way of saying ‘that is so typical of you’, like you think it’s sweet someone is quite obsessed with pancakes, so when they excitedly tell you the new restaurant around the corner is serving brunch, you can say: ‘That’s very on-brand for you to know that before anyone else’.
A short form of the notoriously difficult to spell ‘bourgeoisie’ (full disclosure, I took a stab at it and got spell check to fix it just now), this an adjective to describe someone or something that lower class folks think is upper class or snooty. For instance: ‘you can keep your bougie cheese selection platter from the grocery store’. I love a good cheese selection platter from the grocery store, by the way.
You’re really looking forward to something, and every one of your friends says it’s going to be great, and it turns out to be… not great. That’s a nothingburger. It can be something you’re worried about, or something you’re excited about, but if it’s a total dud, it’s a nothingburger.
If you’ve watched any zombie show, or reality show following people who are planning for the apocalypse, you probably know what this is. If you haven’t, it’s a bag you’ve stashed somewhere in the event of a natural disaster, or you know, the collapse of modern civilization. It often has things like dry food rations, water purification tablets, a tool that can be a shovel and an axe and a flamethrower or something, first aid kit, medicines, and all that. It’s a very sensible thing to have, but if you research it, you will run into a community of people that are Very Prepared and they are a bit terrifying. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
You should feel prepared for the next time a news item about wild boars comes up, or there’s an impending zombie invasion. You never know, it might all be a bunch of nothingburgers!
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