Here's some misnomers that have been eating at me lately:
Significant Others: As a term of endearment this just doesn't measure up. "Oh! Oh! Give it to me hard, my significant other. The size of your penis is so.... appreciable. See also: Domestic partner, which sounds like an attorney specializing in family law.
Postmodern: I defy anyone to define this word in a meaningful way. Given that the term modern is inherently relative to time, what is postmodern? It's like asking what's past the edge of the universe.
Roadside Bomb: Roadside has an amiable, folksy connotation, like a roadside produce stand. Bombs are seldom folksy or amiable.
Eating disorders: Such afflictions as anorexia would more rightly be called starving disorders. Obesity is an eating disorder.
Fake vs. Real Boobs: One is made of flesh while the other is made of silicone or saline solution in a pouch. How is one real and the other fake?
Detainee: This means delayed. As in, "Sorry I'm late for dinner. I got detained at the office." Yet now it's a euphemism for prisoner.
Undocumented Workers: Most of whom will never have proper documentation and many of whom never work.
Displaced Persons: This is a newer version of undocumented worker. It implies that the illegal alien got here but not of his own volition, like he was blown by the wind. People are displaced by natural disasters, not raft rides to Miami.
Pro-life: Aside from these guys, who isn't in favor of life?
Pro-choice: I bet they aren't for choice per se. Are they for Atomic Dog's choice to shoot that abortion doctor dead in front of his kids, for example?
Swing States: As polarized as our nation is, it's insulting to imply that all but 17 states are already sewn up for one candidate or the other.
The 9/11 hijackers: It's traditional to ID criminals by their most heinous offense i.e. the 9/11 mass murderers.
Niggaz: This is a sneaky way of using the N word without seeming racist. White entertainers (J Lo for one) sometimes use it to boost their street cred. Never do that.
Street Cred: See above. See also: indie, alternative, hip-hop and alt-country.
Crises and Disasters: Drained of meaning through overuse. See: "Health Care Crisis," "Education Crisis," and disaster areas. We may need to go with catastrophe from here on out.
In its class and of the season: As in, "most cargo capacity in its class" or "the feel-good hit of the season." What class? What season? As defined by whom?
Feel-good hits: I hate those.
The party you are trying to reach is not answering. Please try your call again later: Funny but I had noticed how it just rang and rang. Maybe I'll try back later.
Any faves or additions?
What's with all the lists recently?
Have you seen Last Comic Standing? What with the weird hair in your little picture and your penchant for hyper-literalism, you are a dead wringer for Jay London.
by mg at September 29, 2004 9:24 PM
Yeah I can see that but I prefer to think of myself as an older version of John Mellencamp. Or John Cougar or whoever he is today.
by anna at September 30, 2004 7:38 AM
MG, I just reread your comment. "Penchant for hyper-literalism" hits the nail on the head. And I passed that trait on to my son in spades.
by anna at September 30, 2004 7:41 AM
Pentax: “THE OFFICIAL DIGITAL CAMERA OF THE INTERNET™”
by MrBlank at September 30, 2004 5:09 PM
Who knew the internet needed an official camera? Then again, who owns the damn thing? When you write a check for "domain fees" or whatever, who cashes it?
by anna at September 30, 2004 6:31 PM
Alamo: "The Official Rental Car of the American Vacation"
by MrBlank at September 30, 2004 7:18 PM
A few things. Firstly, prefixing anything with "My" in order to make people feel special by implying at least some degree of ownership. For example, "My MSN", "My Yahoo", and "My MP3.Com" (now obsolete). Is it really their Yahoo? No. It's not. Unless they actually own stock in the company, then it's perhaps debatable. I think Microsoft started the whole thing with their "My Computer", "My Documents", "My Network Places", etc. lingo. As a computer programmer, I absolutely cringe when I see variables named in this style, such as myCounter or myString.
Secondly, the internet-shopping metaphor of the "Shopping Cart". I would much prefer something like "Conceptual Holding Bin" or "Digital Repository for Items Pending Purchase".
And finally, the overused prefixes "e-" and "i": e-mail, e-music, e-news, iMac, iPAQ, iPod, iTunes.
by andrew at October 1, 2004 7:48 AM
I also share your peev about the "MY ..." but for some reason all the Windows stuff never bothered me. If anything, that should have bothered me more - I'm sitting at my computer I didn't need anyone to tell me it is "My Computer," especially not Bill Gates or Clippy.
The "e" thing bothers me as well, but it might just be developer types who get annoyed by that. I once worked for a (start-up) company that wanted to put "e" in front of every once of their services. You are sitting in front of a computer with a web broswer open, I think the fact something you are doing is going to be "e_lectronic" is pretty much a given. Every link on the site started with "e", if'd have been smart, I would have changed the email link to "eEmail" just to see if they'd notice.
by mg at October 1, 2004 6:02 PM
Well I got a little something in my shopping cart. It is a .5 liter bottle of absinthe, at a cost of $58. Throughout the whole checkout process they never mentioned the shipping charges. Only when I was done did I realize they charge a flat $25 no matter how much they ship. If I'd known that I'd of gone with a whole liter. Now that peeves me.
As does people using "of" in place of "have."
by anna at October 1, 2004 6:42 PM