Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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.

Maybe it’s my Catholic school education, but I can’t stop thinking about shaming. Though I pooh-poohed the overuse of shaming in Slate, the lexicographer in me can’t help but enjoy—and record—the giddy explosion of terms. So here’s a bunch of recent coinages I found since writing that article.

Some of these name an ugly action, like poor shaming. Others are meant to be jokes, like ghost shaming. Many are unintentionally funny, like celebrity shaming. A few require a little explanation, like reductive shaming: this term was applied to a journalist who was taking the shocking, audacious stand that people should vote. I think apathy shaming would be a better term, but it wouldn’t be half as whacked.

All these terms are part of a trend that is broadening the lexicon at a rapid pace. I hope you enjoy them, and I encourage you to use them in your tweets and rants.

aperture shaming
“Baha! Oh, and just so you know, my aperture is pretty much always open. Because I’m that kind of girl, and I don’t need to apologize for it, thank you… (No aperture shaming here.)
(Oct. 1, 2013, Pintester)

book shaming
“Though you may be terrified to admit it, we all have deep, dirty secrets we’d rather not share with others … No, not those! I’m talking about book shaming, the latest way to reveal things you might have denied otherwise.”
(Oct. 21, 2013, Vox Magazine)

butt shaming
“Many of the VMAs’ 5 million-plus viewers took to Twitter and Instagram after she left the stage, and used the hashtag #Mileyasssmallerthan to show and describe everything that can easily replace her non-existent backside. According to US Weekly, Miley’s team is officially ‘freaking out.’ Welcome to the butt shaming of Miley Cyrus.”
(Aug. 26, 2012, The Bookbox)

celebrity shaming
Jones fired off a series of celebrity-shaming tweets this week, complete with the hashtag “#stopactinglikewhores.”
(Oct. 22, 2013, CBS New York)

creamer shaming
“Definitely, considering I seriously heard someone talking about creamer shaming at a coffee shop the other day.”
(Oct. 21, 2013, Vanessa Boom Twitter)

fish shaming
“Fish shaming – I attack fish that come near my eggs…”
(Oct. 22, 2013, We Know Memes)

“Maria Kang, a very fit mom of three, is accused of ‘fit-shaming’ women in a Facebook photo she shared, and now refuses to apologize for.”
(Oct. 16, 2013, The Hollywood Gossip)

geek girl shaming
“’Fake’ Gamer/Nerd Girls and Why Geek Girl Shaming Needs To Stop”
(Oct. 10, 2013, Linksaveszelda)

ghost shaming
“Ghost shaming. Guys, it’s an epidemic — people shaming ghosts, ghosts shaming people. Okay, this one isn’t a real reason per se, but I do sincerely love the idea of a real haunted house where the ghosts feel offended by all the naked humans up in there home.”
(Sept. 23, 2013, The Gloss)

human shaming
“Remember Dog Shaming and Cat Shaming? Now it’s time for Human Shaming! Want to participate?”
(Oct. 8, 2013, Sad and Useless)

leggings shaming
“Cut The Leggings-Shaming, Already”
(Oct. 24, 2013, Bust)

mom shaming
“This Week in Tabloids: The Mom-Shaming of Kim Kardashian Has Begun”
(Oct. 9, 2013, Jezebel)

poor shaming
“Poor-shaming is the notion that people are destitute because we haven’t sufficiently stigmatized their misfortune—enough.”
(Aug. 1, 2013, Tina Dupay)

reductive shaming
“Keller @ Large: The ‘Reductive Shaming’ Of Those Who Don’t Vote”
(Sept. 26, 2013, CBS Boston)

salad shaming
“But now, I would like to discuss a different kind of salad shaming, even though you had not heard of any kind of salad shaming until this very moment.”
(Oct. 14, 2013, The Gloss)

senator shaming
“Senator shaming, debt fixes and other reader opinions about Shutdowngate”
(Oct. 21, 2013, Dallas News)

short shaming
“Short-Shaming: Fashion’s Dirty Little Secret”
(Oct. 21, 2013, Huffington Post)

tip shaming
“Have you ever been accused of ‘tip-shaming?’”
(Aug. 8, 2013, Canada.com)

trailer park shaming
“It sounds to me like the Establishment is looking down on people who live in mobile homes and making them feel ashamed. So I would like to come out against trailer park shaming.”
(Sept. 24, 2013, Salon)

Shame on!

Mark Peters is a lexicographer, humorist, rabid tweeter, and language columnist for Visual Thesaurus. He also writes the Best Joke Ever column for McSweeney’s. Read his previous OUPblog posts on topics such as the language of Batman and Arrested Development.

Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only language articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

Recent Comments

  1. Simon Fodden

    Mark, I’m with you on shaming. But may I suggest that it’s either “can’t help enjoying” or “can’t but enjoy” and never “can’t help but enjoy”? “Help” and “but” do the same sort of job so there’s no need for both. No shame, though.

Comments are closed.