Notes from a Linguistic Mystic

Today, I’d like to highlight some interesting neologisms (new words, idioms and word uses) upon which I’ve stumbled recently.

Yard SaleNoun, from Skier/Snowboarder parlance

This refers to a very bad fall when skiing, during which your skis, poles, hat, goggles and other accoutrement are ripped off of you and strewn about the snow. The origin doesn’t take a lot of imagination, it’s simply drawing a comparison between having all your gear spread out in the snow and spreading it out on your lawn for a yard sale.

“Then, I hit a mogul, and dude, it was a total yard sale”

BoBoNoun, originally French, but imported

A contraction of “Bourgeois Bohême”, it refers to a yuppie (rich, young businessperson) who pretends to be a hippie and/or socially conscious through involvement with Eastern Religion/Decorating, Yoga, New Age beliefs, Fair-Trade Organic Shade-Grown Vegan Coffee, and conspicuous charity. There’s a level of inherent hypocrisy here, taking the Humvee to the “No blood for Oil” rally and paying $5000 for a luxury meditation retreat.

My city (Boulder, CO) is a true haven for these types. They’re attracted by the hippie reputation of the city, but also thrilled with the accessibility to modern conveniences and businesses. Perhaps the epitome of the BoBo mindset can be experienced by a quick visit to Now & Zen, a merchant which sells, I kid you not, “Zen Clocks and Timers”. Instead of a conventional tone, they knock against a Tibetan Singing Bowl. These are upwards of $100 each, and, last I checked, actual monks get up at sunrise, by natural means. However, if you’re a Bobo, what better way is there to express your spiritual consumerism than with a “tibetan phone bell”?

“Are Rob and Erma bringing little Samsara?” “Nah, they’re going to drop her off at the Meditation Center on their way to work over at Exxon.” “Ugh. They’re such BoBos”

NascarNoun, originating in the blogging community

“Nascar”, in the blogging context, refers to the sometimes endless list of social bookmarking site icons on the side or underneath blog posts. These are used by site authors to garner more clicks on social bookmarking sites (which help people to share interesting content and make things more well known online). See the below example:


The etymology (word origin) stems from the visual similarity of a blog like this to a NASCAR race car, which is generally plastered with many smaller advertisements.

“I’ve chosen not to put any Nascar on this site, but I don’t mean to pick on those who have. I just prefer the cleaner look.”

ToolgazingVerb, origin unknown

This is a very colorful, humorous and poetic term for a very awkward situation. For those who might not share my Y Chromosome, American Men’s Restrooms usually have a wall with 2 or more urinals, all flush (no pun intended) with the wall, and often there are no dividers between these urinals, so men just line up side by side. “Toolgazing” refers to the act of a man glancing over at the exposed genitals of the other men urinating next to him. This is not looked upon nicely in the men’s restroom community, and those few who persist are very likely to enrage or offend the victim if caught.

“Fred’s kind of weird. One time I caught him toolgazing in the restroom at work”

Victory LapNoun, found among college students

A “victory lap” is the fifth year of classes taken to complete a four year degree program in college, and is often the result of a change in concentration or a school transfer. A person who is taking a victory lap is often called a “Super Senior”.

“Are you graduating this spring?” “Nah, I’m taking a victory lap, I have to take a Literature class”

Stall CallNoun, origin unknown

A “stall call” refers to the act of placing or receiving a phone call while using the restroom. Some people are reluctant to make or take stall calls, but others seem to see no problem with the practice, even taking heroic measures to hide the associated sounds of flushing and sink usage.

“Who is Jim talking to in there?” “He’s making a Stall Call.” “Eww.”

That’s it for this episode of Neat Neology. If there are any you’d like to see featured here in the future, let me know. I hope you’ve learned some new words, and that you find interesting ways to work them into conversation. Then again, I hope you don’t have to use all of them…

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