For celebrities, love can be risky business. Just ask Tom Cruise: When he leapt on Oprah Winfrey's couch, punched the air and professed undying love for Katie Holmes, he couldn't have known the performance would introduce jumping the couch to the lexicon of English.
According to the website urbandictionary.com, that's "... the defining moment when you know someone has gone off the deep end."
Let's use it in a sentence: "That writer at 24 hours totally jumped the couch when he said crack ho was a legitimate term used to describe hookers hooked on the pipe."
But to give the sober working gal a fair shake, a crack ho is actually defined as "a prostitute addicted to crack cocaine."
Oh, and lest you think the expression lacks currency, that definition's from the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary.
Compare that to the first entry under crack ho on the urbandictionary.com site. It reads: "Anyone who puts out for KFC coupons."
Now that's a finger-lickin' good visual.
Like its online cousin Wikipedia, the Urban Dictionary's users create its content, which, by definition, gives some words more credibility than others. In other words, it's slang for the people, by the people.
"It's important to understand that the core English common to all Anglophone countries changes very little and very slowly," according to blogger and lexicographer Grant Barrett.
"We modern English-speakers - or at least our journalists - pay a great deal of attention to new words, but they are just foxfire on the banks of the great river of English that has run its course for centuries."
Barrett says that the spate of neologism - new words - triggered by the net-users is subject to a brutal marketplace: usage determines whether a new word flourishes or simply fades away. And the best indicator of durability remains the printed word - i.e. once a word makes it into a dictionary.
But tell that to the masses who have earjacked a convo or two on the proletariat chariot lately where, to the uninitiated, the slang the kids are slinging from shore is as foreign as the various metal objects piercing their, um, people bits.
And speaking of bits: Conversation always has the capacity to turn sexual, but now it seems it actually means sex, or rather, when two people hook up, as in, "Adam and Eve had a conversation in the backseat of his Lincoln last night." You could also say they were talkin'. And if it were Adam and Steve, well then that backseat would be pretty brokeback.
Hey, how about those Canucks?
See that? That's a conversational turn signal which, if we were having a convo, would simply be called a non sequitur.
But while we're on the subject, if you ever drive downtown to take in a Canucks game, keep an eye out for rock-star parking.
That's right out front, minivan Morrison.
And of course, there's that annoying advertising jingle stuck in your head. What? Don't have one? Try this: "Hands in my pocket, hands in my pocket, hands in my pocket..." Bet it's in there now. Congratulations, that's a tune wedgie.
Yes, it might be all music to your fears, but when all is said and done, it's all about timing, and the wily wordsmith must always know how to mark their departure.
So, with that in mind ... word out.
WORDS TO LIVE BY
Try slinging some sample slang with your peeps, er, kids. We promise they won't think you're a merchant banker, which is Cockney rhyming slang for a ... Hey, did we mention the conversational turn signal?
- Earjacking: eavesdropping on a conversation that you have no business hearing.
- Proletariat chariot - the bus.
- Word out: to mark the end of a conversation and your departure.
- Safety buzz: drinking alcohol so as to have some excuse at a later date for the actions you might get into.
- Dandruff: one who always ditches, or "flakes," usually for an insufficient reason.
- Celebutante: A socialite who is "famous for being famous."
- Wack: To be of low or dubious quality. Origin: comes from 'whacky', which evolved to 'whacked' or 'whacked out'.