In this column Caitlin Moran muses on which new words entered her life during 2009, and which new cliches she has come to depend on. Read the full column here.
New year is when the Oxford English Dictionary releases the list of words that made it into its next edition — an event that, for word-nerds, is the equivalent of finding out who has made it into the England team.
For 2010, the line-up is looking frisky. Simples, staycation, hatinator: a useful jumble of fashion innovations (“hatinator” is a tiny hat worn at a ludicrous angle), teen slang (“simples” is a way of making the word “simple” a bit more complicated — the kind of ultimately pointless endeavour that adolescents so enjoy) and social developments (“staycation” being mankind’s heroic attempt to make “resentful, sweaty Augusts at home” look like the thrusting lifestyle decision of a true social maverick and not the sad consequence of having spaffed all your pay cheques on a heady combination of gas, bread, plumbers and VAT).
It’s not just words, of course. Last week the Financial Times conducted a census on state-of-the-art clichés, concluding that the power-banality of 2009 was “the elephant in the room”. The irony with the phrase “elephant in the room” is, of course, that when someone uses the phrase “elephant in the room”, the elephant in the room instantly becomes how much everyone else in the room is thinking, “I hate the person who just said ‘elephant in the room’. Everything he says is like someone pushing bad porridge in my ears. I wish there was an elephant in the room. It might kill him. And I could sell the footage to You’ve Been Framed. That would make today good.”
Personally, these lexical reckonings gave me pause to consider which new words have entered my life during 2009 — and which clichés I have come lazily to depend on, like an old pair of slippers, or a faithful dog or, erm, some heroin.