Weekly Word Watch: ball-tampering, juuling, and Bitegate
To close out the month of March, we’ve got a very bodily Weekly Word Watch, complete with eyebrows, lungs, organs, faces – and cricket balls.
Spring is sprunging, and it with, the latest superciliary styles and some unusual vocabulary to go with it.
On Her, Orlaith Condon introduces us to the expanding lexicon of eyebrow fashion:
Last year, week after week, a new brow trend emerged online. From the feather brows to those barbwire brows, it got pretty bad, pretty fast.
Well, now there’s a new brow trend that has people talking and it actually might be nice… kind of.
Enter the garden brow.
— Taylor R (@iamtay_tay) March 12, 2018
These eyebrow gardeners use forms of green lipstick, real flowers, and butterfly stickers to cultivate this not-so-garden variety look. (Sorry, we’ll spare you any further puns, which can be quite super-silly-ous.)
2017’s feather brows and barbwire brows, alas, predated our Weekly Word Watch, as did plaited/braided brows and dragon brows. But garden brows has certainly raised our – antenna – to listen out for this growing family of brow vocabulary.
Elsewhere in fads, schools, parents, and health professionals are becoming increasingly concerned by a rising trend among teenagers in the US: juuling.
Juuling is a slang term for the recreational use of a leading brand of electronic cigarettes in the US, JUUL. The sleek-looking vape resembles a USB flash drive, and is even charged by plugging it into a computer’s USB port.
More and more under-smoking-age US high school students, according to recent reports, are taking advantage of the JUUL’s small size, inconspicuous appearance, and lower output of smoke to vape them in school. The trend worries health experts, who fear juuling may create a new generation of nicotine addicts.
Lexicographers, meanwhile, are all too familiar with the underlying semantic trend of a word like juuling.
JUUL debuted in June 2015, and mere months later on the likes of Twitter, we can find its proprietary name JUUL – pronounced like and evoking jewel – de-stylized to juul and then shifted to a gerund, juuling, and verb, e.g., let’s juul.
There’s some evidence, too, that juul is being used for an act of using one’s JUUL: I need a juul right now, modeled on I need a smoke. It remains to be seen, though, if JUUL becomes properly genericized for all vapes, à la hoover or dumpster, as current references to juuling do seem to refer to the particular brand.
Such a genericism may be unlikely, as a word has already handily filled the lexical gap for electronic cigarettes: vape, as noted as the Oxford Dictionaries 2014 Word of the Year.
But juuling, of course, isn’t just a term of lexicographical note. As physician and professor Pamela Ling told Kaiser Health News, the name juuling – as opposed to smoking or even vaping – may conceal the nicotine-related risks of the activity to younger, more vulnerable teens.
This week, researchers at the New York University’s School of Medicine announced they discovered what might be a new organ in the human body. They are calling it the interstitium.
The interstitium – a mesh of collagen and elastin below the skin and lining the digestive track, circulatory system, lungs, and parts of the muscles – is filled with a fluid that helps organs function and may be the source of lymph, key to our body’s immunity.
The name interstitium is apparently from interstitial fluid, a term for all the juicy stuff in our 70%-water-bodies found outside of cells – that is, in the interstices, or the tiny, intervening spaces.
Interstitial, indeed, is the adjective form of interstice, attested since 1603 and from the Latin interstitium, ‘gap’ and literally meaning ‘standing between’.
Use of interstitium itself isn’t novel in the language. We can find interstitium used as a learned term for a small gap of space or time in the late 1500 and 1600s. We can also find it in anatomical texts for a region of a body lying between the principal cells and tissue of that region.
What’s novel, though, for the NYU researchers, is recognizing that this interstitium isn’t just deep connective tissue, as previously thought, but is a vital organ all its own.
It’s not every day that the sport of cricketing makes the international news headlines, but when it does, you better believe we’re on it.
Scandal highlighted some cricket jargon on the Weekly Word Watch last October when former Indian cricketer Pandurang Salgaonkar was accused of pitch-fixing, or illegally altering the pitch to make it bouncier.
Scandal has again brought another cricketing term to our attention: ball-tampering. Two top Australian cricketers have been banned from the sport for a year after it was discovered they plotted with bowler Cameron Bancroft to scuff the ball. This is known as ball-tampering, and in the sport often involves ways of roughening the surface of the ball to change its spin in a way that makes it harder to bat.
Bancroft was caught on camera concealing a small bit of sandpaper in his trousers. The image led to the foiling of the Australia team’s ball-tampering trickery in a test against South Africa.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary’s records, one of the first scandalized ball-tamperers was Dave Danforth, a professional US baseball player whom ‘crackers’ charged with ball-tampering in 1929, according to a local South Carolina newspaper.
One of the last notable ball-tampering scandals was also branded with -gate: Deflategate, when the New England Patriots American football team and their quarterback, Tom Brady, were alleged to under-inflate a football in a 2015 playoff game.
The scandalous suffix reared its head yet elsewhere this week. Actress Tiffany Haddish claimed she saw a fellow performer bite superstar Beyoncé’s face at a party late last year. Among the Beyhive, or Beyoncé’s fandom, the stinging accusation sparked the hashtag #WhoBitBeyonce – and the inevitable, if delightful, name for the incident, Bitegate.
— ET Canada (@ETCanada) March 27, 2018
These days, we can almost certainly guarantee an outrage will be labelled a -gate, but Bitegate proves will we never be able to predict what it will be about.