Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Search Term: "mark peters"

Book thumbnail image

Buzzword shaming

By Mark Peters
I recently wrote about the proliferation of the lexical formula “X-shaming,” launched by slut-shaming and body-shaming and taken to preposterous extremes by words such as filter-shaming and fedora-shaming. Everywhere you look, someone is talking about shaming. The hyphen is optional, but the topic is increasingly mandatory.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Holy Court of Owls, Batman!

By Mark Peters
My name is Mark Peters, and I am a Batman-aholic. I blame Christopher Nolan. Between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, I felt an insatiable thirst for more Batman than Mr. Nolan was providing. In my desperation, I turned to a childhood addiction: comic books.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Curly-murly, flippy-floppy boom-booms

By Mark Peters
There are many words I love. Some of my favorites are abyss and buttmunch. I also love many categories of words, such as euphemisms and variations of the f-word. One of my favorite types of word makes my heart go thump-thump and pit-a-pat: reduplicative words. Reduplicative words are far more than a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, though they’re often a load of gaga.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Not a Euphemism

I write about euphemisms for Visual Thesaurus every month, and I love collecting and discussing evasions, dodges, lies, and straight-up malarkey, such as the terms sea kitten and strategic dynamism effort. However, I am also a fan of words and phrases in the “not a euphemism” category: especially the phrase not a euphemism itself, which is used in speech and writing to both downplay and heighten the filthiness of dirty-sounding phrases.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

A Smidget of Regional Terms

By Mark Peters
There are some things I love to an unhealthy degree, such as The Shield, Russian imperial stouts, George Carlin’s comedy, mint chocolate chip ice cream, and Evil Dead 2. My heart beats equally fast for the Dictionary of American Regional English, which recently published its long-awaited final volume.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Denim venom: future products in the style of jweats

By Mark Peters
Word blends are the bunnies of language: they breed like motherfathers. During the recent American Dialect Society meeting in Portland, plenty of blends were singled out. Assholocracy is an apt description of America, especially in an election year. Botoxionist refers to a doctor specializing in the forehead region of vain people. A brony is a bro who loves The Little Pony. That word was voted Least Likely to Succeed, but you can bet similar words will keep sprouting: particularly in the world of fashion.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

No one Tebows after Bucknering

By Mark Peters
Tebow is one of the most successful words of 2011, referring mainly to the post-touchdown pose of Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow: just as people plank, they Tebow too. However, the verbing of Tebow’s name is just one example of the popular sport of eponymization. Sports fans love turning athletes into eponyms: words derived from names, like boycott and shrapnel.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Fake squid, psychiatric patients, and other Muppet meanings

By Mark Peters
With the arrival of the new Muppet movie, Kermit, Miss Piggy, Beaker, and our other felt friends are everywhere. There’s no escaping Jim Henson’s creations, and few of us would want to (unless the movie happens to suck, which is doubtful, given the stewardship of Jason Segel, who showed major Muppet mojo in the heartbreaking and spit-taking Forgetting Sarah Marshall). It’s a good time to look at the history of the word Muppet, which has some meanings that would make the Swedish Chef bork with outrage.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

A fetching snowclone: Stop trying to make X happen

By Mark Peters
A few weeks ago, I spotted this tweet by Braden Graeber: “Dear white guys, stop trying to make camouflage cargo shorts happen.”
Minutes later—in a moment of true synchronicity—I saw a white dude in camouflage cargo pants. Whoa.
As a fashion-challenged, oft-confused doofus, I appreciated the heads-up to two facts: 1) those shorts are an atrocity, and 2) this phrase is a snowclone that’s invaluable in mocking anything fake or contrived that annoys or pains us.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The gods are on Twitter

Tweet By Mark Peters I’ve been seeing gods everywhere lately. Not gods like Thor, Ganesha, and God. My cinnamon rolls have been deity-free, if not gluten-free. It’s lexical gods I can’t seem to escape. Everywhere I look someone is thanking, cursing, or begging some specific group of supreme beings. For example, I’ve recently spotted the […]

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Flummadiddle, skimble-skamble, and other arkymalarky

Tweet By Mark Peters I love bullshit. Perhaps I should clarify. It’s not pure, unadulterated bullshit I enjoy (or even the hard-to-find alternative, adulterated bullshit). I agree with the great George Carlin, who said, “It’s all bullshit, and it’s bad for ya.” Hard to argue with that. What I love is the enormous lexicon of […]

Read More
Book thumbnail image

When life hands you lemon-ology

By Mark Peters

If I had a lemon for every time I heard “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade,” I’d have enough lemons to open a lemons-only Wal-Mart. If I had another lemon for every time I heard a variation like, “When life hands you lemons, run straight home and hide them because the apocalypse is upon us and soon everyone will want them,” I’d have an absolute monopoly on the lemon market, fulfilling my boyhood dreams.

This expression and its variations are everywhere, nowhere more so than on Twitter, the richest source of jokes

Read More
Book thumbnail image

The Yosemite Sam Book of Revised Quotations

By Mark Peters

Some people and characters are forever associated with a word. I dare you to say refudiate, malaise, nanu-nanu, despicable, winning, and meep without thinking of Sarah Palin, Jimmy Carter, Mork, Daffy Duck, Charlie Sheen, and the Road Runner (or Beaker).

Without a doubt, the poster boy for varmint is Yosemite Sam, the rootin’-tootin’, razzin’-frazzin’ cowboy who

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Up the Wazoo and Into the Abyss: Words I Love

By Mark Peters

It’s easy to find articles about words people hate. Just google for a nanominute and you’ll find rants against moist, like, whom, irregardless, retarded, synergy, and hordes of other offending lexical items. Word-hating is rampant.

So if that’s the kind of thing that yanks your lexical crank, look elsewhere: this column is all about word love, word lust, word like, word kissy-face, and word making-sweet-love-down-by-the-fire, as South Park’s Chef would put it.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Bad Bananas Make Great Stocking Stuffers

By Mark Peters
At some point, I think we’ve all asked ourselves, “When is the best time to start training a kitten to hold a knife?”

That question—written by Tim Siedell, a.k.a Twitter’s badbanana – is one of the expertly crafted one-liners you can find in his new book Marching Bands Are Just Homeless Orchestras: Half-empty Thoughts Vol 1. It’s the funnest/funniest book I’ve picked up in donkey’s years, and it’s also pretty and shiny and full of cool illustrations by Brian Andreas. Unless you hate puppies and America, you should give yourself and your minions this tremendous book, which offers pertinent dietary observations such as: “That Indian dinner was so authentic I think I hate Pakistan.”

Read More