I was listening to the public radio show “The Takeaway” today. They had an interview with Thomas Kershaw, who for many years has owned the Boston bar after which the one in the TV show “Cheers” was modeled. Talking about the atmosphere in the city after the recent bombings, he said, “People have places they frequent, that they call their local.”
My ears perked up. This sounded like local in a very British sense, the one usually referred to as the local and defined by the OED as “the public house in the immediate neighborhood.” The dictionary quotes Germaine Greer: “Women don’t nip down to the local.”
After some looking around, I am going to label local as On the Radar. The only possible U.S. use I was able find about wasn’t about a bar at all. It was a March 2012 New York Times article that talked about how a man “came to own his local: the Mud, Sweat and Tears Pottery studio.”
But I bet local will eventually come into its own as a full-fledged NOOB. Probably in Brooklyn.
(“Cali”=California. Bear=symbol of University of California.)
As seen on Twitter. (Jack Shafer is an American columnist for Reuters)
Just spotted on East 11th Street in New York City, an up-to-the-minute example of do to mean prepare/offer/serve.
The British say someone is on about something; Americans say going on, or going on and on. The first citation in the OED is from Rosamund Lehmann’s 1936 novel, Weather in Streets: “Marda’s always asking me why I don’t get a divorce… Last year she was always on about it.”
Welcome to NOOB-hood, bro.
- Kathryn Schulz (@kathrynschulz) writes on Twitter: “While I’m on about etymology (I’m always on about etymology): ‘adamant’ gets its root from ‘diamond’ — hard, unbreakable.”
- Kelly Dwyer on Yahoo Sports a couple of weeks ago: “I didn’t see a second of TNT’s Thursday night package, and didn’t hear what [basketball commentator Chris] Webber was on about.”
- “G. Funk”‘s comment on an article about professional wrestling on The Bleacher Report: “That’s why [the Ultimate Warrior] was the best. No one had a clue what he was on about, but everyone loved it.”
An early U.S. use came from the Rev. Al Sharpton, quoted in a 2002 New York Times article about a taped conversation he had with an undercover agent posing as a drug dealer: ”The guy had come to me. In the middle of conversation he started talking about how he could cut me in on a cocaine deal. I didn’t know what this guy was on about. I didn’t know if he was armed. I was scared, so I just nodded my head to everything he said and then he left.”
Always a groundbreaker, the Rev. is.
Nancy Friedman alerted me to a passage from the February 22 New York Times because of the NOOB five words from the end.
As she rose from her chair at the Calvin Klein fashion show in Midtown Manhattan the other week, Jessica Chastain was all but engulfed by an onrush of journalists and celebrity groupies imploring the lanky, flame-haired actress for a word, a glance, a nanosecond of her time.
Stefano Tonchi, the editor of W, embraced her showily as cameras clicked and whirred. Tim Blanks, the editor at large for Style.com, thrust a microphone in her face, pleading for an interview, before a pair of overzealous handlers leapt onto the catwalk to spirit her away.
Yes, Ms. Chastain can Hoover that kind of attention.
But what also caught my eye was the British leapt at the end of the second paragraph; the traditional American spelling is leaped. Sure, the -pt form is gaining ground. Sticking with the Times, it has used leaped 45,800 times since it started publishing in 1851, compared to 13,100 for leapt. But in the last twelve months, the tables have turned: there have been 793 leapts in the paper and only 301 leapeds.
The Times is ahead of the curve on this. The Lexis-Nexis database of U.S. newspapers reveals 1231 leapts in the past six months compared to 1528 leapeds. But it seems clear that leaped better enjoy its dominance now, because it won’t last much longer.
A Reuters article, datelined San Francisco and posted yesterday, says Microsoft “managed to pip Facebook Inc in the survey – only 42 percent of young adults thought the world’s largest social network is cooler now than in the past. Twitter scored 47 percent, below Microsoft’s 50 percent.”
I heard about this on Twitter, where Kenneth Li provided the link and tweeted: “In which an american writer uses the word ‘pip.’”
What means this pip? I did a search on GoogleNews and this emerged:
That was not helpful, so I turned to the OED, which I should have done in the first place. The relevant definition is “To defeat or beat narrowly,” and the first citation is from 1838, in the journal “Hood’s Own, or Laughter from Year to Year”: “With your face inconsistently playing at longs and your hand at shorts,—getting hypped as well as pipped,—‘talking of Hoyle..but looking like winegar.’”
That settles the meaning. As for NOOB-itude, Kenneth Li was right to single this pip out. It’s an outlier for sure.
Commenting on my post on main
, the redoubtable Nancy Friedman commented on Twitter: “I’ve seen ‘afters’ on a menu in SF [San Francisco]. It’s right up there with ‘stockists
‘ on the pretension index.” To which I replied (in so many words), “Do what
She explained that afters
means “dessert,” and sure enough, the OED tracks it to a 1909 article in the (London) Daily Chronicle: “They could not all afford ‘dinner and afters’. Many had to be content with ‘afters’.” Interestingly, the word was still getting the quotation-marks treatment in Jennie Hawthorne’s 1958 The Mystery of the Blue Tomatoes:
“For ‘afters’ to-day she made them all an apple crumble.” (Note to self: check how long the hyphenated “to-day” remained a thing.)
Fortunately, an admittedly less-than-comprehensive search suggests that the United States is still, for the most part, safe from afters. I went back three years on Google News and the only non-Commonwealth use of the term was from a January 2012 New York Times restaurant review (significantly, of a place specializing in Singaporean food): “For afters: sticky toffee pudding ($5).”
I have no doubt that Nancy has seen what she has seen in San Francisco, but the one afters-
using restaurant I’ve been able to turn up is Moe’s, in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, which affirms on its website
: “The afters are listed on another chalkboard, this one on wheels so it can be rolled to your table in place of the ubiquitous dessert cart loaded with Madame Tussaud’s finest.” Worth a detour, I should say.
As some of you know, my day job is as a professor of English and journalism at the University of Delaware. Several times, I have led study-abroad programs based in London, which is how I first became interested in this whole NOOB phenomenon. Anyway, I am directing a London program again this summer (probable dates are June 2 through July 3), if you know someone who may be interested, I encourage you to pass this along. (The program is open to students from any college or university, not just Delaware). The deadline for applications is February 25.
The program consists of two courses. The first is a literature class called The Great London Novel, in which we’ll read (and visit locations of) Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend and a contemporary book (possibly John Lanchester’s Capital). The second is a journalism class called Covering London in which students will both study the British press and write dispatches of their own for a class blog.q
Complete info is at this website. And feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
The New England region of the U.S. just got hit with a massive (30-inch) snowstorm. A friend of mine from Massachusetts wrote on Facebook:
Onto our third basket of firewood since noon. I think this is evidence that crap wood is crappier than non-crap wood. Before I ordered the crap wood I read that this was the case, and lo, it is true.
My friend is British, so her repeated use of crap as an adjective did not surprise me. But her use of crappier was interesting. Certainly, crappier is the appropriate comparative for the traditional American adjective crappy. (“The show … was on the crappy side,” The Catcher in the Rye.) But not for crap, I wouldn’t think.
However, no alternative presents itself. Certainly not crapper–a Google search for that word yields only results related to Thomas Crapper. More crap doesn’t sound right, either. So I put it to NOOB readers: what word do you use to indicate something that surpasses some other thing in the degree to which it is crap?