‘Ledgebag’ is totes amaze

‘Are you leaving your curlers in, Dot, till it starts?’ Eithne Duggan asked her friend.
‘Oh def.,’ Doris O’Beirne said. She wore an assortment of curlers — white pipe-cleaners, metal clips, and pink, plastic rollers. Eithne had just taken hers out and her hair, dyed blonde, stood out, all frizzed and alarming. She reminded Mary of a moulting hen about to attempt flight.

This passage appears in Edna O’Brien’s Irish Revel, from her short story collection The Love Object (1968). I like her list of curlers and the unsparing description of Eithne’s hair, but I’m quoting it here because it contains a curious abbreviation — def. for definitely — that I don’t remember seeing in written dialogue before.

Nowadays, definitely is often abbreviated as defo by teens and 20-/30-somethings. My younger sister has introduced me to several novel clippings she and her peers use, and which are an ongoing source of familial amusement and interest. Some of what follows I owe to her; others I came across elsewhere. Some are old, some new.

Besides defo there is hilar (hilarious), wev(s) (whatever), obvs and obvo (obviously), morto (mortifying), fabbo (fabulous), abso (absolutely), natch (naturally), /kaʒ/ (casual), dodge (dodgy), and tradge (tragic) — which through semantic inflation can be used to refer to pretty much anything mildly regrettable. The exaggeration is often deliberate, and lends the utterance an ironic or tongue-in-cheek quality.

A ledge (legend) is someone worthy of praise or appreciation. Legend has become flattened much as awesome and epic have, by repeated association with people and things and events that are not, in the traditional sense, legendary, awesome or epic. This is totes (also tots: totally) natural.

Ledge sometimes takes the -bag suffix — or perhaps it’s what Arnold Zwicky calls a libfix — to become ledgebag, a popular Irish English slang term that means the same as legend. Indeed, with coinages such as ridebag and hoebag following the pejorative dirtbag, scumbag, slimebag and douchebag, –bag might be worth a post of its own.

(Twitter’s a good place to search for words like this and see how they’re being used.)

The recurring –s and –o endings are common in slang and nicknames, acting as markers of informality. Others I heard or saw recently include awks (awkward), rubbs (rubbish), blates (blatantly), and adorbs (adorable). My brother said he saw tots unbo on Facebook, meaning totally unbelievable.

Some of you may be nodding your heads in sombre agreement.

I imagine the particular form these words take reflects the influence of instant and text messaging and other forms of electronic discourse that motivate speed and concision. They’re not the kind of words you’d use in a formal job application, but they are fast and efficient, and language loves a shortcut.

They also identify their users as members of a tribe, serving as implicit signals that one is a student, a young person (or young at heart), or someone who doesn’t take themself too seriously.

Young people get a lot of flak for their language. To older generations and traditionalists it can seem lazy, vulgar, or degraded; they may be disturbed and alienated by it. But youth is a time for rebellion from, and reinvention of, the world being inherited, and this is as true of linguistic expression as it is of any other behavioural domain.

Slang, as Eric Partridge wrote, is the quintessence of colloquial speech, “determined by convenience and fancy”. It lets people experiment with language at their ease and pleasure, playing with it as they would play with paint or putty, sharing new shapes as though it were Lego. You don’t have to be a creative writer to be creative with language.

What do you think: are these clippings tradge, cutesy, faddish and ridic, totes adorbs, or obvo delish and amaze? (Yes: amaze is being used as an adjective now; don’t get me started on amazeballs.) Do you use any of them? Where have you heard or seen them, and which ones have I missed?


I’ve been reminded of a few on Twitter, such as cajj /kaʒ/ (casual), ridic (ridiculous) and delish (delicious), and have edited them into the post. More may follow. A particularly inventive one comes from Sue Walder, whose daughter has turned CBA (= “can’t be arsed”) into ceebs. Sue says it’s catching on in her house.

A few more: @SamHawkins mentions jel for jealous; Andrew Innes reports awes for awesome; and an unnamed party says she saw ROFLSHVUAKOMAIL (Rolling On Floor Laughing So Hard Voldemort Uses Avada Kedavra On Me And I Live), which isn’t like the others, but (a) the comments touch on ROFL and co., and (b) it amused/scared me.

Lane Greene at Johnson follows up with “Slang: The abbrevs are my plezh“. He adds a few more to the collection and addresses something I’ve wondered about before: that some of these words cluster around certain sounds, such as the dʒ (“dzh”) in ledge, dodge, and tradge. Be sure to read his post to find out what he makes of it all.

Nancy Friedman, via email, reminds me about ridonk: a shortening of ridonkulous, from ridiculous; while Kevin Sullivan offers gorge for gorgeous, though unlike me he finds it “[h]ard to get past negative connotations of the word ‘to gorge'”.

Andrew Sullivan joins in the discussion at his Daily Beast blog The Dish, quoting Lane Greene and me on these “totes cray-cray abbrevs” and then sharing readers’ comments, including one that mentions claymaish for claymation, quoted in the TV show Parks and Recreation.

Coudal Partners have also picked up on this: Abrevs are like totes adorbs.

Lane Greene muses further on the phonetic aspects of these slang abbreviations, proposing that young people have “noticed that letters like ‘t’ and ‘s’ undergo weird sound changes when followed by certain sounds”, and that “[c]utting those words off at those mutated sounds is fun.”

I love this one. Nancy Friedman, in a post at Fritinancy on the word uppertendom, reports that “‘sucesh’ was a popular abbreviation for ‘secessionist’ before the [US] Civil War”. Apparently, sesesh and secesh were also used. Nancy has also written about Nutrish, a brand of dog food that’s “right in step with the vogue for truncations”.

The Dogmic blog adds a few more, from the writer’s brother: mensh for mention, exclo for exclamation mark, susplain (“not even an abbreviation of explain, just a bastardization”), and several Chicago street names.

Lauren Beukes’s cyberpunk novel Moxyland has arb for arbitrary: “You’d be amazed at what compelling viewing even the most arb of daily interactions can make…”

I’ve been seeing unforch used as an abbreviation for unfortunately. You can search Twitter for examples.

On Twitter, Carol Braun says her students in NYC “had a fad for saying ‘hundo’, short for ‘hundred’ and used to express some kind of approval”; while Rollo Romig has brought to my attention this exchange in The Lost Weekend (1945):

“Don’t be ridic.”

“Gloria, please, why imperil our friendship with these loathsome abbreviations?”


67 Responses to ‘Ledgebag’ is totes amaze

  1. “Abrevs are like totes adorbs” Jesus it took me a few moments to work out what the poster was saying. God I feel out of touch!

  2. emordino says:

    “Amazeballs” is passé, these days it’s all about “amazerbeams”.

  3. Shauna says:

    Bertie Wooster says def. and other similar abbreviations in Wodehouse’s Jeeves books.

  4. Claude says:

    I am old, old, old, old…..and glad to be! I cannot even imagine hearing Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret Dashwood using such abbreviations. That is why I will always read Jane Austen with the same intense pleasure.

  5. Eolaí says:

    Em, aamong the -dge words there is also ‘vadge’. ‘Fab’ and ‘brill’ seem ancient or at least older than text messaging (like defo )so I’d guess from speech? ‘Slebs’ is one that I don’t like hearing (but I’ll live).

    In a rather loud voice, a teacher once pointed out to me, referring to what I had written in the subject space on the front of a copybook, that ‘ekker’ is not a word.

  6. From the vamp to ‘S Wonderful (1927), lyrics by Ira Gershwin:

    Don’t mind telling you, in my humble fash
    That you thrill me through, with a tender pash,
    When you said you care, ’magine my emoshe
    I swore then and there, permanent devoshe.. . .

  7. Slightly related – the addition of -age to denote plural. As in ‘pint’ – ‘pintage’.

  8. I’ve seen “natch” in the 1960s era Marvel comic books my uncle gave me. At the time, instant messaging and chatrooms were in, and texting hadn’t taken off yet, so I didn’t know what it meant for a good while.

  9. KarlaKarla says:

    The only one I tend to use is “prolly”–prolly cause it’s faster to “touch” that than the whole word. I gave my kids and friends heck about it until I got my own touch screen phone and wanted shortcuts. Some of those abbreviated words would take too much brain space for me to memorize.

  10. korystamper says:

    One of my faves is “haps” for “happenings,” as in “What’s the haps?” I first saw it on Dinosaur Comics at qwantz.com, but it turns out that it dates back to the 13th century.

    The best ever extant use of “haps” (IMHO) is in the title of a poem from 1567: “After misadventures come good haps”.

  11. @Shakirah: I was around and sentient in the 1960s, and trust me–there was no IM (unless you mean “instantly reaching someone on a rotary phone”) and no chatrooms (unless you mean “dorm rooms and coffee shops”).

    “Natch” for “naturally” has been around since the mid-1940s. H.L. Mencken recorded it in 1948, in the second supplement to his “American Language.” See http://www.randomhouse.com/wotd/index.pperl?date=19990607

  12. Jonathon says:

    I wonder if anyone’s studied the phonological constraints of clipped forms with -o. A few are quite common and regular, like ammo and camo, but then there are the newer formations like aggro or convo that don’t quite fit the pattern. There must be some rules for their formation, since you can’t really just stick the -o on anything.

  13. @Shakirah: Aha! Thanks — my misunderstanding.

    @Jonathon: There’s also a set of fashion-lingo clippings that end in “i” or “ie”: cami (camisole), cardi (cardigan), lippie (lipstick), etc. I think in these cases the diminutive is implicit.

  14. Stan says:

    Jams: It’s a lot less baffling after the first exposure!

    emordino: I assumed you’d made up amazerbeams on the spot until I looked it up. Outstanding. Amazergasm.

    Shauna: Thank you for letting me know. It’s so long since I read him, I’d forgotten. Presumably def. pops up here and there in older literature; I didn’t have time to investigate in any depth.

    Claude: I think most people over 25 or 30 would feel old in the face of this kind of slang! Jane Austen will continue to give me great pleasure too, but not because she doesn’t use these words.

    Eolaí: I hadn’t thought of that one! Thanks. The -dge words are a subcategory unto themselves. I’d like to include veg here, but I don’t think I can. Your mention of fab and brill reminds me of aces, as in the happy exclamation. As for ekker: excellent? (home) economics?

    Nancy: That is wonderful. Thank you. It’s not hard to imagine the same lyrics in a song a century later.

    Ciarán: Yes, that’s a whole other playful set, maybe worth a future post. Unfortunately, I associate the -age suffix more with official language like signage for signs.

    Shakirah: Natch is an old one all right. Its spelling, though a good guide to the pronunciation, can easily mislead a reader as to its origin and meaning.

    Karla: Ah, I forgot about prolly. I don’t think I’ve ever used it, but I’ve received it in text messages and email. In speech it can sometimes be hard to tell whether someone is saying probably very quickly or actually saying prolly having gotten used to typing it, or something in between the two sounds.

    Kory: I don’t think I’ve ever heard What’s the haps? And it’s been around so long! Shame on me.

    Jonathon: Interesting question. I haven’t looked into it, but you’re right: there are constraints, or at least tendencies, to -o addition or whatever it might be called. I wonder what they are.

  15. Being a writer, I love how language changes. Having two female teenagers in the house, one who shares up to 20,000 text messages a month, I’m kept abreast of new words, whether I like it or not.

    Recently I’ve been hearing “butt-hurt.” Used when someone has had their feelings hurt. “He’s all butt-hurt now because his girlfriend’s not talking to him.”

    For me it conjures up images from back in the day when teachers could swat students.

  16. joy says:

    To what extent are these spoken abbreviations vs. written ones? Seems to me there has to be a whole ‘nother set of abbreviations specifically for texting – most of these don’t seem to save letters, so they wouldn’t serve that purpose.

    As a woman of a certain age who neither texts nor tweets, and who uses a proper full-sized keyboard (on which I am a touch typist, as befits a woman of my age) when chatting online, I have no use for any of these! But of course the evolution of language is fine, so long as the folks using these know not to use them in job applications and business letters.

    I got a message (on gmail chat) from a friend yesterday saying “r u dt?” I wondered that he could think I was withdrawing from alcohol, so I simply replied with “huh?” Turned out he wanted to know if I was downtown so we could have a coffee. Who knew? He uses a smart phone, no proper keyboard…

    Oh, and “a whole ‘nother” is an expression which my wonderful high school linguistics teacher (yup, took linguistics in high school, almost 40 years ago) felt should become a proper English expression. I agree!

  17. Marc Leavitt says:

    I’ve noticed that the English have used the
    “o” variation for years – in fact, I had an English lady friend in the early 60s, who peppered her conversation with “goodo.” “Fab,” and “spaz”(no longer PC shortening of spastic) were two examples of the shortening trend current in the US at the time.

  18. Arlene says:

    Noob. For newbie, a novice or someone new at something. It may have started with teenagers who have just gotten their driver’s licenses.

  19. Eolaí says:

    Stan – ‘ekker’ was short for exercise(s), meaning ‘homework’ as in “Because my grandad got stuck inside the washing machine, I didn’t do my ekker last night”. One of those spoken abbreviations – universal in my world – that I was never sure of how to write.

    While I’m on the subject of words used during school days, does ‘pimps’ for ‘simple’ fall into the category of this blog post?

  20. SlideSF says:

    Eolaí – In the ’60s I lived overseas and went to an Irish missionary school. We used one word – swot – to denote ‘homework’, ‘study’, and ‘nerd’. Much more convenient to say, write, or type than ‘ekkers’.

  21. Eolaí says:

    SlideSF – That’s interesting. ‘Swot’ only denoted the final two of the three for us. And I should stress that it was only ever ‘ekker’ – never with a final ‘s’, in the way that whether you had one exercise to do as homework, or many, you wouldn’t say ‘homeworks’. I can’t recall if, when using the full word in the plural, we said ‘exercise’ or ‘excerises’ – but we definitely only said ‘ekker’ and never ‘ekkers’.

    I see the origin of the word ‘swot’ is ‘sweat’, which makes sense – in that I would’ve guessed that calling someone a ‘swot’ (one who studied too much) came after the verb of the ‘swotting’ that earned you the name.

  22. Sean Jeating says:

    If certain people don’t wish me to understand them: Def. fine with me.
    It’s interesting, anyway, that (parts of) each generation are trying to re-invent the wheel.
    Herein may lie one of probably many reasons for that the primate calling his … ha ha ha, and why not ,,, her species homo sapiens sapiens is not able to learn from history.
    Thankfully, an idiot is still an idiot; and not only in the classical sense.

  23. The 1987 British sitcom Filthy, Rich & Catflap had a lot of these abrevs, sometimes made-up by the cast, and mostly to satirise people who worked in ’80s showbiz (showbusiness, dear).
    My memory’s gone, but in this list of quotes there’s ‘Your Hon’ (Your Honour), ‘skip’ (skipper), ‘journo’ (-list), ‘nov’ (a novel), ‘Tarby’ (Jimmy Tarbuck), and
    “Panto, love. Pantomimes. Ooh, we’ve done a few. Oh, Cinders, Alladers, Dickers Whitters. That was terrif.”

  24. wisewebwoman says:

    As I have a teenage granddaughter I am familiar with most. We use text abbreviations in conversation but strictly to amuse ourselves. Wev being one for ‘whatever’ and ROFLMYAO* pronounced :’Rofflemyayo’ to express amusement.
    *rolling on floor laughing my arse off.

  25. These aren’t slang, per se, but I’ve wondered where the -o’s went on abbreviations like carbo and porno, which are now carb and porn. When I was…erm…younger, we carbo-loaded before a race and sexually explicit imagery was porno. Maybe two syllables are too many? On the other hand, def preceded defo in my experience (although I also suspect defo to be a Britishism so it may not have been an evolution but an introduction).

  26. I expect the majority of people who use “natch” have no idea that it derives from “naturally”. I don’t use it, and didn’t know, but I have a strong impression the few people I’ve encountered who do use it don’t know either.

    Some I associate with particular people. “Totes”, for example, I associate with certain female bloggers, and it also brings to mind a certain easily-pleased thrill-seeking personality.

    To be honest, most are not familiar to me at all. Those that are, almost exclusively from the Internet.

    When you come to write the post on -bag, one of us might mention that in Australia, “scumbag” was popularised around 1990 by then-Prime-Minister Paul Keating, who used it in parliament. Nobody remembers the context, but no doubt it was in reference to the opposing political party as always. I recall my classmates making merry use of the word when asked to be politicians in a mock classroom parliament session. I suspect there’s a connection to why the card game known by various names in other places is most often called “Warlords and Scumbags” in Australia, as the comic political connotations could well have helped the name to catch on.

  27. Stan says:

    Everett: Being around teenagers is a great way to keep track of language change. I’ve come across butt-hurt, but not often. Funny how the same part of the body is put to work in pain in the ass/arse, again to convey non-physical pain.

    Joy: Some are spoken, some written, some both. I find a lot of online chat (such as on Twitter) occupies a grey area where the language is ostensibly written, or rather typed, but is very speech-like. I don’t think I’ve used any of the abbreviations mentioned in the post, except for totes and then only in jest. But that may change! “r u dt” is pretty cryptic even for txtspk, unless it already had currency between the people involved. A whole ‘nother isn’t in my idiolect, but I do like the expression. There’s an enjoyable discussion about it here.

    Marc: It’s interesting how they come and go; some disappear, some reemerge. I would guess the -o practice is centuries old, but I haven’t researched it at all.

    Arlene: Noob was originally gamer lingo, I think. You’ve reminded me of peeps, and Twitter’s tweeps, neither of which I use but which appear to be very popular.

    Eolaí: Ah: exercise, of course. (I totes overlooked it.) Funny how it wasn’t exer, that the x was split into its /k/ + /s/ and only the /k/ was retained. I’ve seen simps for simple but never pimps.

    SlideSF: Like Eolaí, in my school we used swot for study and nerd but never homework. Whatever its various senses, I wouldn’t consider it much more convenient than ekker.

    Sean: Rather than reinventing the wheel, I think they’re just getting rid of a few unnecessary spokes, and then only when wheeling and dealing among themselves. We learn little from history, it’s true, but I don’t think abbreviations play a significant role there. (You may have been joking, but I’m in a literal frame of mind this morning.)

    PEF Web-Mister: Thanks for the examples — I never saw that show. Terrific has been shortened still further, to trif or triff. Nov probably sounds too close to (k)nob and looks too much like an abbreviation of November to catch on…

    WWW: You are up to date! ROFL has been very productive both as communicative shorthand and as an in-jokey meme, generating ROFLcopter (which became a game), ROFLSTALIN and so on.

    Jaime: I guess a lot of them aren’t slang as such, though I would say ledgebag is, and the abbreviations feel slangy. But my categories definitely need tightening. Carb(o) and porn(o) are interesting examples. Maybe abbreviations like this either lose the -o or gain it to suit a new generation? It makes the form new again with minimal effort.

    Adrian: Hmm. I have a different impression: that most people who use natch know it derives from naturally. It might be worth an informal survey. Thanks for the note on scumbag. Vulgar political language has a fast track to notoriety: an Irish politician who used “unparliamentary language” a couple of years ago quickly did the rounds on Reddit, BoingBoing, HuffPo, etc. It was an unprecedented level of exposure for him.

  28. My impression on natch is extrapolated mostly from a conversation I had with a teenager in the very late nineties, in which I enquired about the word and learned only that it meant “yes”. If she knew the derivation it would have been odd not to mention it. I can’t recall seeing the word in use this millennium.

    In Australia, the word swot is taught as an acronym for “study without teachers”, and swotting refers to study done in the week before exams when students get time off school in order to make time for said study. Its relationship to the BrE swot is either a very odd coincidence or else a folk etymology that became real. (Or something I haven’t thought of.)

  29. Richard says:

    George V Higgins was a great user of ‘prolly’ in his novels.

  30. sueb262 says:

    I’ll bet I’m older than most of the posters here (tailgating my 60th birthday), but I have no trouble with (using/hearing/reading) any of these constructs in my emails, chats, and texts. I’m surprised at how many people seem to have forgotten how language (especially the learning of language) works: one listens and infers, correcting understanding as experience dictates. That’s how we learned all the language we know, and that’s how we learn how to listen to others’ individual styles and usages. How is that different from these “new” forms?

    The self-absorbed whine “I’m too old for all this new-fangled claptrap” is extremely tedious. I hear it as: “Pay attention to me instead of what you’re really interested in!” or “I’m afraid of learning anything new!” I suspect that I’m not the only one who hears it that way, so be aware of the impression you’re leaving when you say such things.

  31. johnwcowan says:

    Australia is full of clippings, diminutives, and -o endings; I’m surprised Adrian didn’t speak of them above (but why should a fish notice water?) I think that Dame Edna Everidge’s remark “I hear she’s had a hizzie in the hozzie” is still a bit over the top even there, though.

  32. John — what is your experience of Australian clippings? I would dispute that they’re quite as abundant as you make out, but they are more common in some parts of the country than others. Queensland is well known as prime clipping country.

  33. So long as such verbal innovation thrives, we need have no fear about the health of the language.

  34. Scott Schulz says:

    We were using “cazh” as teens in 80’s So. Cal. How stable is “rebellious” teen lingo over time? Is there a process of parallel re-invention via clipping, etc, or does this language get passed on and preserved in generational social structures like schools and businesses?

  35. Hmmm, I remember hearing ‘scumbag’ in the early eighties and have never associated its use with Paul Keating. I thought Paul Keating was more remembered for, gasp, putting his hand on the person of Elizabeth II.

  36. @Eyeball, I’m not saying Keating is responsible for the emergence of “scumbag” in the first place, but I think you’ll find his parliamentary use of the word added a more ironic, self-satirical layer of meaning, as it became linked to mock imitations.

  37. Moreover, without such a process, we wouldn’t have ‘bus’ or ‘pub’.

  38. johnwcowan says:

    Adrian: Well, let’s start with Oz and go on to Aussie, Ozzie, Ozite. Then there’s aggro, arvo, barbie, Chrissie, coldie, cuppa, garbo, mozzies, sickie, smoko, uni. Not all these are unique to Australia by any means, but they are all words that (1) I have personally heard used by Australians, or seen in emails or blog postings (not just in movies, TV, etc.) and (2) definitely aren’t used by Americans.

    If you want to say these aren’t clippings because they have diminutive endings, I accept that. But I did exclude tinny and wharfie because they seem to have no element of clipping.

  39. Stan says:

    Adrian: I don’t think I’ve seen natch for many years either. If I heard it now, it would probably sound dated to me.

    Richard: Thanks. I haven’t read any of Higgins’s books.

    Sue: Sometimes people saying they’re “too old for all this” are just saying they’re too old to adopt it. Such a response isn’t necessarily delivered as a whine, a rebuke, or a judgement, though of course it can be.

    Barrie: Precisely.

    Scott: Cazh is a better rendering than the cajj I used (I was told that’s how some teenagers spell it). I’m not surprised it was around in the 1980s, and it may well be older still. I imagine that both processes you mention, among others, are active: parallel reinvention, and language being passed on — though rarely from parent or other authority figure to young person, for obvious reasons.

    Ashley: That’s quite a legacy!

    • sueb262 says:

      I’m just going by the tone of those who say it. (And what, exactly, does “too old to adopt it” mean, anyway? How does age prevent one from progressing? I certainly haven’t experienced that, and I’m no spring chicken.)

  40. johnwcowan says:

    For me, porn is a mass noun meaning ‘pornography (of any sort)’, whereas porno is a count noun meaning ‘pornographic movie’.

  41. […] apostasy and rounded up apostrophic reactions from around the web. Mr. Carey also explored new abbreviations, as did Ben Yagoda at Lingua Franca (and don’t forget Erin McKean’s piece on clipped words from […]

  42. Nurn says:

    I think “too old to adopt it” means that you have kids old enough to roll their eyes. They’d much rather hear you say that something is “fab” than that it’s “ledge”. Then they can roll their eyes at you for being old-fashioned, rather than roll their eyes at you for trying to be “with-it”. (Am I showing my age at all?)

    • sueb262 says:

      I agree that it’s not good to try to sound like something you’re not. However, regardless of age (or even age gap!), it seems appropriate to speak more or less as does the community that you’re communicating with. This is even more true if you honestly spend time/share interests with “the younger generation.” And the thing is, it also seems to me that deliberately casting yourself as old unnecessarily creates a boundary; it seems to say, “This is who I am, and it’s all that I am, and I’m done doing any more growing.”

  43. Liz Potter says:

    My daughter and her friends (aged around 19-20) are great users of clippings and other linguistic novelties. They use the verb ‘low’, vowel sound as in ‘loud’, allegedly a shortened form of ‘allow’, to mean ‘skip, not go to, not attend’; as in “Are you going to the pub tonight?” “No, I’m really tired, I’m going to low it.” Has anyone else heard this, or is it just a Brummie thing?
    I really enjoy their linguistic creativity, by the way. It’s lively and entertaining, and they are still perfectly capable of writing a formal essay or job application when required.

  44. […] What’s your favourite word? This changes regularly, but at the moment I’m a fan of abbreviating words à la The Only Way Is Essex. For instance, “Don’t be ridic, I’m well jel! That party was totes amaze.” There’s a great blog post on Sentence First about this phenomenon. […]

  45. Stan says:

    Liz: I’m happy to hear you get a kick out of this kind of language, and I agree: it is creative and entertaining. That low usage is interesting. I’ve never heard it before, and I wonder what its origins are.

    Anthony: Thank you for sharing Harry Graham’s marvellous poem. I don’t always have time to keep up with Futility Closet, and I had missed that poem when it appeared.

  46. […] at Sentence first, Stan Carey writes a loving tribute to the rash of abbreviations and pet names that seem to be […]

  47. Oisín says:

    I’ve just heard one on an Australian TV show that I hadn’t heard before – “I’m absolutely devo”. Despite the fairly extreme clipping, in the context anyway, it was immediately recognisable as devastated.

  48. Stan says:

    That’s a good one, Oisín – thanks for reporting it and the source. It also makes a minimal pair with defo.

  49. Chione says:

    Fun! I stumbled across your site looking for an answer as to whether my (young) fictional character should abbreviate the name Emmanuel to Ems or Em’s..piece written in dialect…Anyway – I didn’t see this although it might be here – convo = conversation..Like! I think it might be used more now, courtesy of the Kardashian’s.

  50. Stan says:

    Thanks, Chione! Convo doesn’t appear in the post, but it crops up in the comments. It’s a good example. I’d definitely go with Ems over Em’s, by the way.

  51. […] 36. I was only morto. [Mortified. See my post on faddish clippings.] […]

  52. […] renown or achievement may be granted the description; similar trends with legend and its spin-off ledge(bag) – peculiarly Irish, I think – complete the inflationary […]

  53. […] * This -bag suffix remains popular in Ireland, as in the more recent ledgebag. […]

  54. Dave says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBZsl7KgbJQ @ around 1’40” – Colm Meaney and Andrew Maxwell discuss a missed “-bag” opportunity on Star Trek.

  55. heya ! q , do you have these terms listed ? i’d love to have a dictionary of all of them … thanks !

  56. […] here is spoken by a seasoned officer. It’s no more trendy than got the morbs, which sounds like a novel clipping but in fact had currency in the late 19th century. To borrow from Buffy, it gives me a […]

  57. […] enter English in a variety of ways. They may be imported (import); compounded (download); clipped (totes); affixed (globalisation), acronymised (radar); blended (snowmageddon); back-formed (donate); […]

  58. […] enter English in a variety of ways. They may be imported (import); compounded (download); clipped (totes); affixed

  59. […] awks, and awky all seem to have re-emerged as part of the vogue for clippings like totes, defo, and adorbs. Searching Twitter for phrases like so awk, so awks, and so awky reveals their renewed […]

  60. […] use similar abbreviations: def, undef, func, int, var, segfault. Stan Carey and The Economist report on abso tradge […]

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