Terms for bullshit in the English language have grown so vast it has now become a lexicon itself. We talked to Mark Peters, author of Bullshit: A Lexicon, about where the next set of new terms will come from, why most of the words are farm related, and bullshit in politics.
When horses were a common means of transportation, horseshit was as common as potholes are today. While actual horse feces is rare nowadays, horseshit is as common as ever in our vocabulary.The list of synonyms and euphemisms—such as horsefeathers, horse hockey, horse hooey, horse pucky, and horse apples—is huge, taking up many pages in the Dictionary of American Regional English, Green’s Dictionary of Slang, and the Historical Dictionary of American Slang.
Seinfeld famously added a ton of terms to English, such as low talker, high talker, spongeworthy, and unshushables. It also made obscure terms into household words.
Arrested Development—the cult comedy set to rise from the dead on Netflix 26 May 2013—had its own distinctive language. It was a show of catchphrases: “I’ve made a huge mistake.” “No touching!” “I’m a monster!” “There’s always money in the Banana Stand.” “Steve Holt!” “Her?”
Twitter is a joke factory, where professional comics and civilian jesters crank out one-liners round the clock. In that joke factory, there are popular models. Every day, new jokes play on phrases such as “Dance like no one is watching,” “Sex is like pizza,” and “When life hands you lemons.” While the repetition can be maddening, I’m impressed by how, inevitably, there’s always another good joke lurking in even the most tired formula.
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.
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 following religious invocations: • […]
Many lessons can be gleaned from watching reruns of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: Indirect sunlight is not an unlife-ender for vampires. Some small-town mayors may yearn to become giant unholy snake things (no surprise there). As Cordelia Chase said, “People, you’ve got to leave your tombs earthed.” (Whoops, that was on the Buffy spinoff Angel—but whatever).
You don’t have to be an MD or a sick puppy to appreciate the enormous family of humorous medical terms, including ‘peanut butter balls’ (phenobarbitol), ‘horrendoplasty’ (an operation without a sunny forecast), or ‘duck’s disease’ (‘being short’, so-named for the non-NBA-ready stature of quackers).
Word blending is a full-time sport in the world of dog breeding. Any two breeds, and their appellations, might spawn a blend. Some recent designer breeds, as they are known, include ‘Beagadors’ (Beagle and Labrador), ‘Maltipon’ (Maltese and Pomeranian) and ‘Jackabees’ (Jack Russell and Beagle).