By Kat Moon
Ever feel like your co-workers—or, worse, your boss—are speaking to you in a different language? No, I’m not talking about your team suddenly deciding to conduct a meeting entirely in French. I’m talking about what often seems to be the language of the business world: acronyms.
While some of us have the guts to ask for clarification when we have no idea what’s being said, others of us cringe at the thought of asking potentially “stupid” questions. Well, to everyone in the latter group: Today’s your lucky day. We’ve rounded up abbreviations for the most commonly used terms that you’re likely to run into at work (or more likely, in an email).
Better yet, they’re categorized by department, so you can prep before a meeting with your finance, technical, or marketing teams. (And because we’re pretty sure that, regardless of your role, you don’t want to be the only one who nods with a confused smile when there’s a RFD because the CTR for your website decreased and a QA test is required by EOD.)
BID: Break it down
COB: Close of business
EOD: End of day
EOM: End of message
EOT: End of thread
EOW: End of week Read More…
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems like we, as writers, do get so wrapped up in the actions, thoughts and relationships of our characters that we completely forget to dress it up. Sentences get so long-winded in action and thought that any descriptive narrative is just left in the dust. With this tutorial, we will remedy that. Hopefully.
You may ask: What am I to do? And I shall tell you: You just need to start small, using basic descriptive words and work up to more complicated and sophisticated sentence structures.
- Let’s start with a plain, basic sentence.
Ollie sat underneath the tree.
- Let’s replace Ollie with a pronoun and give the tree a species.
A boy sat underneath the willow tree.
- Ask yourself this. How old is the boy? Is he very young? Or is he more of a teen? Is the tree dying? Is it a young tree? Use words like “young” or “lively” to give your character (or any other living things in the scene) an age group and a starting point to visualizing your character for the reader. We’re just going to call the boy “young” for right now.
A young boy sat underneath the willow tree.
- Now we need some sort of action the boy (or the tree) could be doing. just sitting isn’t going to cut it. when adding more action to a sentence, it would range anywhere from a single word to an entire phrase. just make sure that when you add the action that it moves with the rest of the sentence in a coherent fashion and that there is proper punctuation to accommodate it. for our little example sentence, we’re going to add a phrase.
A young boy sat underneath the willow tree, watching a breeze.
- “Watching the breeze” sounded all nice and fluffy when we first put it, but after we’ve read it a few times it sounds sort sort of ridiculous. One can’t literally watch a breeze, right? Here we can just add an action for the breeze to be doing simultaneously with the action of the boy. The boy doesn’t even have to have any awareness of what the breeze is doing at all. So, we will just change a few words around and add something for the breeze to do.
A young boy sat underneath the willow tree, as a breeze flitted through the bulrushes.
- Now that you are starting to get the hand of this, we can just skip a bunch of the steps and get to the end part, where we have a lovely and descriptive sentence worthy of opening your post. Below, as you can see, we added a few more choice words, replaced some things and moved some phrases around.
As a gentle breeze flitted through the bulrushes, a young boy sat contemplating underneath the ancient willow tree.
Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, ‘Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression‘ or does it mean, ‘Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default’? We’ve stumbled into the looking-glass world of “contronyms”—words that are their own antonyms.
1. Sanction (via French, from Latin sanctio(n-), from sancire ‘ratify,’) can mean ‘give official permission or approval for (an action)’ or conversely, ‘impose a penalty on.’
2. Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” “Oversee,” from Old English ofersēon ‘look at from above,’ means ‘supervise’ (medieval Latin for the same thing: super- ‘over’ + videre ‘to see.’) “Overlook” usually means the opposite: ‘to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore.’
3. Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)
4. Dust, along with the next two words, is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.
5. Seed can also go either way. If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them.
6. Stone is another verb to use with caution. You can stone some peaches, but please don’t stone your neighbor (even if he says he likes to get stoned).
7. Trim as a verb predates the noun, but it can also mean either adding or taking away. Arising from an Old English word meaning ‘to make firm or strong; to settle, arrange,’ “trim” came to mean ‘to prepare, make ready.’ Depending on who or what was being readied, it could mean either of two contradictory things: ‘to decorate something with ribbons, laces, or the like to give it a finished appearance’ or ‘to cut off the outgrowths or irregularities of.’ And the context doesn’t always make it clear. If you’re trimming the tree are you using tinsel or a chain saw?
8. Cleave can be cleaved into two “homographs,” words with different origins that end up spelled the same. “Cleave,” meaning ‘to cling to or adhere,’ comes from an Old English word that took the forms cleofian, clifian, or clīfan. “Cleave,” with the contrary meaning ‘to split or sever (something), ‘ as you might do with a cleaver, comes from a different Old English word, clēofan. The past participle has taken various forms: “cloven,” which survives in the phrase “cloven hoof,” “cleft,” as in a “cleft palate” or “cleaved.”
9. Resign works as a contronym in writing. This time we have homographs, but not homophones. “Resign,” meaning ‘to quit,’ is spelled the same as “resign,” meaning ‘to sign up again,’ but it’s pronounced differently.
10. Fast can mean “moving rapidly,” as in “running fast,” or ‘fixed, unmoving,’ as in “holding fast.” If colors are fast they will not run. The meaning ‘firm, steadfast’ came first. The adverb took on the sense ‘strongly, vigorously,’ which evolved into ‘quickly,’ a meaning that spread to the adjective.
11. Off means ‘deactivated,’ as in “to turn off,” but also ‘activated,’ as in “The alarm went off.”
12. Weather can mean ‘to withstand or come safely through,’ as in “The company weathered the recession,” or it can mean ‘to be worn away’: “The rock was weathered.”
13. Screen can mean ‘to show’ (a movie) or ‘to hide’ (an unsightly view).
14. Help means ‘assist,’ unless you can’t help doing something, when it means ‘prevent.’
The Oxford Dictionary Online is a warehouse of over 600,000 words. Despite this large arsenal, we continue to coin, clip, and blend new words into existence, and the Oxford folks pump some of these new words into their dictionaries. Here are some more recent additions with their official definitions.
1. Bling (n): Expensive, ostentatious clothing and jewelry.
2. Bromance (n): A close but non-sexual relationship between two men.
3. Chillax (v): Calm down and relax.
By Onna Nelson, University of California, Santa Barbara
1. English red
The Proto-Indo-European (PIE) word for red, reudh, remained largely unchanged for thousands of years, showing up in English red, Spanish rojo, French rouge, German rot, Icelandic rauðr, and Welsh rhudd. Not only did it lead to these words for the color itself, it also led to red-related English words like ruby, rust, and rubeola.
2. English black
The PIE word bhel evolved into many modern words meaning “white,” including Spanish blanco, French blanc, Italian bianco, and Portuguese branco, as well as white-related words such as bleach and blank. So why does the English word black look so much like all these other words for white? Well, bhel also referred to anything bright, like fire, and the result of fire is blackened, charred remains. Hence, black.
3. English green
The PIE word ghre-, meaning “to grow,” is another root which endured the centuries. What grows? Green stuff! Grhe- gave us many modern words meaning “green,” including English green, German grün, and Icelandic grænn, as well as the English words grow, grass, graze and herb.
4. Portuguese red and purple
As languages add color words to their lexicon, the colors a word refers to can get shifted around. Portuguese roxo, related to the same PIE word reudh, used to mean red and red-related colors, including pink, orange, and purple. When the bright red pigment vermilion was imported from China, Portuguese began using vermelho to refer to red, and pushed roxo aside to refer exclusively to purple.
5. English purple
Purpura is the Latin name of a particular kind of shellfish which, when ground up, produces a bright purple dye, which in turn was taken from the Greek word porphura to describe the same sea creature. The word purpura later began to refer to the dye, and eventually the color of this dye. This dye was very expensive, and purple was considered a color of royalty throughout Europe. When this dye was exported to England, the word purple was imported into English as well. Today “purpura” is used by medicos to describe purplish discolorations of the skin.
6. English pink
Lots of fancy color words come from flowers or fruits: violet, periwinkle, lavender, lilac, olive, eggplant, pumpkin, and peach, to name a few. In English, pink used to refer exclusively to a flower called a pink, a dianthus which has pale red petals with fringed edges. “Pink” the verb, meaning to cut or tear jaggedly, has been in use in the English language since the early 14th century. Eventually, English speakers forgot the name of the flower, but preserved the word for the color.
7. Japanese blue and green
Over two-thirds of the world’s languages have a single word for both green and blue, known as grue in English. In Japanese, aoi historically referred to grue. When Crayola crayons were imported, green was labeled midori and blue was labeled aoi. New generations of schoolchildren learned them as different colors. But traces of grue remain: Japanese still refers to “blue” traffic lights and “blue” apples with aoi.
8. Kurdish and Russian blue
In Russian, the word for dark blue is sinii, and in Kurdish the word for blue is šin. In Neo-Aramaic, a central hub of trade, the word for blue is sǐni, and in Kurdish the word for blue is šin. In Arabic, a central hub of trade, the word for ‘Chinese’ is sini. The words for Chinese and blue became synonymous due to the popular blue and white porcelain china commonly traded in the region.
9. Spanish yellow
Amarillo, or “yellow,” is a diminutive form of the Spanish word amargo, which comes from the Latin word amarus, meaning “bitter.” So how did “little bitter” come to be synonymous with “yellow”? In the Middle Ages, medical physicians commonly believed that the human body had four humors. The “bitter humor” referred to bile, which is yellow.
10. English orange
When oranges (the fruit) were exported from India, the word for them was exported too. Sanskrit narangah, or “orange tree,” was borrowed into Persian as narang, “orange (fruit),” which was borrowed into Arabic as naranj, into Italian as arancia, into French as orange, and eventually into English as orange. The color of the fruit was so striking that after borrowing the word and the crop, English speakers eventually began referring to the color by this word as well. Before oranges were imported in the 1500s, the English word for orange (the color) was geoluhread (literally, “yellow-red”).
|Abibliophobia||The fear of running out of reading material.|
|Absquatulate||To leave or abscond with something.|
|Allegator||Some who alleges.|
|Anencephalous||Lacking a brain.|
|Argle-bargle||A loud row or quarrel.|
|Batrachomyomachy||Making a mountain out of a molehill.|
|Billingsgate||Loud, raucous profanity.|
|Bloviate||To speak pompously or brag.|
|Blunderbuss||A gun with a flared muzzle or disorganized activity.|
|Borborygm||A rumbling of the stomach.|
|Boustrophedon||A back and forth pattern.|
|Bowyang||A strap that holds the pants legs in place.|
|Callipygian||Having an attractive rear end or nice buns.|
|Canoodle||To hug and kiss.|
|Cockalorum||A small, haughty man.|
|Collop||A slice of meat or fold of flab.|
|Collywobbles||Butterflies in the stomach.|
|Comeuppance||Just reward, just deserts.|
|Crapulence||Discomfort from eating or drinking too much.|
|Crudivore||An eater of raw food.|
|Donnybrook||An melee, a riot.|
|Doozy||Something really great.|
|Dudgeon||A bad mood, a huff.|
|Ecdysiast||An exotic dancer, a stripper.|
|Eructation||A burp, belch.|
|Fartlek||An athletic training regime.|
|Filibuster||Refusal to give up the floor in a debate to prevent a vote.|
|Firkin||A quarter barrel or small cask.|
|Formication||The sense of ants crawling on your skin.|
|Fuddy-duddy||An old-fashioned, mild-mannered person.|
|Furbelow||A fringe or ruffle.|
|Furphy||A portable water-container.|
|Gaberlunzie||A wandering beggar.|
|Gardyloo!||A warning shouted before throwing water from above.|
|Gastromancy||Telling fortune from the rumblings of the stomach.|
|Gazump||To buy something already promised to someone else.|
|Gobemouche||A highly gullible person.|
|Gongoozle||To stare at, kibitz.|
|Goombah||An older friend who protects you.|
|Hemidemisemiquaver||A musical timing of 1/64.|
|Hobbledehoy||An awkward or ill-mannered young boy.|
|Hocus-pocus||Deceitful sleight of hand.|
|Hoosegow||A jail or prison.|
|Hootenanny||A country or folk music get-together.|
|Jackanapes||A rapscallion, hooligan.|
|Klutz||An awkward, stupid person.|
|La-di-da||An interjection indicating that something is pretentious.|
|Lagopodous||Like a rabbit’s foot.|
|Lickety-split||As fast as possible.|
|Lickspittle||A servile person, a toady.|
|Lollygag||To move slowly, fall behind.|
|Maverick||A loner, someone outside the box.|
|Mollycoddle||To treat too leniently.|
|Mugwump||An independent politician who does not follow any party.|
|Mumpsimus||An outdated and unreasonable position on an issue.|
|Namby-pamby||Weak, with no backbone.|
|Nincompoop||A foolish person.|
|Ornery||Mean, nasty, grumpy.|
|Pandiculation||A full body stretch.|
|Panjandrum||Someone who thinks himself high and mighty.|
|Pettifogger||A person who tries to befuddle others with his speech.|
|Pratfall||A fall on one’s rear.|
|Quean||A disreputable woman.|
|Rambunctious||Aggressive, hard to control.|
|Rigmarole||Nonsense, unnecessary complexity.|
|Shenanigan||A prank, mischief.|
|Sialoquent||Spitting while speaking.|
|Skedaddle||To hurry somewhere.|
|Skullduggery||No good, underhanded dealing.|
|Slangwhanger||A loud abusive speaker or obnoxious writer.|
|Smellfungus||A perpetual pessimist.|
|Snickersnee||A long knife.|
|Snollygoster||A person who can’t be trusted.|
|Snool||A servile person.|
|Tatterdemalion||A child in rags.|
|Troglodyte||Someone or something that lives in a cave.|
|Turdiform||Having the form of a lark.|
|Unremacadamized||Having not been repaved with macadam.|
|Vomitory||An exit or outlet.|
|Wabbit||Exhausted, tired, worn out.|
|Widdershins||In a contrary or counterclockwise direction.|
|Yahoo||A rube, a country bumpkin.|
|@||The “at” sign.|