JIM CREES: It’s called a what!!??!!
An English politician recently referred to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as “a wazzock.”
Yes. A wazzock.
A wazzock in some local English vernacular is “... a foolish or annoying person.” As such, the dig works well.
One of the joys of working in this business is we (the newsroom staff) occasionally sit and discuss words, word origins and word usage.
It’s fun. Especially if you enjoy words and language.
In a business in which people write a lot — and a lot every day — there is generally an affection for a good use of language and a sharp turn of phrase.
We go through a lot of “How can I write this better?” or “How would you say this so people will understand?” We’re always exchanging notes and almost always learning something new.
Recently news editor Jon Eppley penned a headline using the phrase “Reigning in the New Year.”
I didn’t know “reigning” could be used in this way. I thought it was a typo.
I pointed it out to him, and Jon replied, quite surprised, “That isn’t a thing?”
Turns out ... it is a thing! Archaic possibly, but completely correct.
I enjoyed that. We learn something new every day — literally. (At least I do!)
And so ... I recently got into a discussion over the name of a very typical Michigan annoyance which everybody sees every day through the winter, but most folks don’t know to describe in literary terms.
Ever notice (of course you have) the dangly clumps of slush and ice which build up in the wheel wells of your car on slushy, icy and very cold days?
Every time you go out to the parking lot you kick them off, leaving huge chunks of frozen, or rapidly freezing sloppy-looking ice all over the place.
(I’m not accusing anyone of littering with wheel well ice. Everybody kicks ‘em off, and there is a real sense of accomplishment when they come off in one clunk and you don’t break a toe.)
But the question begs to be asked — What do you call the magically forming chunks of ice that hang so stubbornly in your wheel wells?
For years I have called them “car boogers.” I assumed this was the correct name. Turns out there are dozens of names for car boogers — depending on where you live, I suppose.
I asked, read and researched.
Around this area, some of those asked recognized car boogers as “snow boogers.”
A barista I asked while picking up my favorite coffee (Quad super cappuccino) referred to them as “tire snot.”
I called a friend in Philadelphia who taught me that in many parts of Pennsylvania, car boogers are called “slurd.”
When I asked why “slurd,” she replied rather indignantly, “What else could you call them?” and basically pooh-pooh any other name I came up with. Folks are sensitive about making changes in their common nomenclature.
“Slurd” by the way seems to be cross between slush and turd - something similar to the term often used in the NYC area -— “snow turds.”
Close to “slurd” ... but not quite ... is the term “snard.” I don’t know how this breaks down.
I was informed in some places in the American northwest, and in parts of Canadian British Columbia, car boogers are known as “chunkers.”
Chunkers. It works, I guess.
Then there is the cutesy-tootsy name “slush puppies.” I’m not sure being cute about “snards” is appropriate, especially after I hit one sneaking out under a car in front of me on U.S. 131 last year and it basically stove in my front bumper.
An Internet contact wrote “I call this a ‘shlump’, which not only clearly describes this lump of slush, but also represents the sound it makes when it drops off.”
Now ...that is getting serious. Almost an Onomatopoeia!
Apparently, in Colorado car boogers are simply called “hitchhikers.”
This works too, but I prefer the term used in Minnesota — “snoboes.”
It sure can be fun to try and uncover the roots of a word that “officially” heretofore hasn’t existed — or has existed in a variety of shapes, forms and sounds.
I found it difficult to find anything in the etymology of the word “wazzock” — in reference to Donald Trump — that wasn’t rather rude.
The Old English descriptives were all an accurate representation of Mr. Trump, but all were too rude to use here!