PR Fish Bowl

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TGIF: Friends with Words?

PR pros tend to be wordy people, and we all have our favorites. Here are some of ours. You may not be able to drop them into your next client press release, but if they fill the bill without making you look like a sesquipedalian (given to or characterized by the use of long words), go for it!

Mondegreen – If you hear, “here we are now/ in containers” instead of “entertain us” when you listen to Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” you have experienced the phenomenon of “mondegreen.” Mondegreen is mishearing or misinterpreting a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. It’s most commonly applied to a line in a poem or a song lyric. Writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in her essay “The Death of Lady Mondegreen,” published in Harper’s Magazine in November 1954, and there are some very funny examples found here.

Disemvowel – A delicious take-off on “disembowel”! If this is how you text, you are disemvoweling: “pln 2 mt @ gt 12,” or removing vowels from text when writing it electronically, especially as a way of typing more quickly (or disguising offensive words).

Skeuomorph – A great word even without a definition. The etymology suggests some kind of strange change, and in fact, a skeuomorph is a physical ornament or design on an object made to resemble another material or technique. Examples include software calendar applications that resemble a paper desk calendar or “simulated woodgrain paneling” on a car.

Tartle – This is a terrifically onomatopoetic word for that panicky hesitation before you introduce someone whose name you can’t quite remember.

Mumpsimus – If you are George W. Bush and you’ve been told countless times how to pronounce “nuclear,” yet still mispronounce it, you suffer from mumpsimus, an adherence to or persistence in an erroneous use of language, memorization, practice, or belief, either out of habit or sheer obstinacy.

Got any impressive vocabulary you’d like to share? Do so in the comments!

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