Cramer-Krasselt is the fourth largest advertising agency in the United States, likely responsible for some of the commercials you’ve seen if you watch any television. This past June, they published their second “Cultural Dictionary”, 2009 version (0.7 MB PDF). You can download it by clicking on the link, though please be a scuppie and don’t print it out, or just bookmark this post for faster future reference, which was why I’ve extracted the text.
The Cultural Dictionary is divided into nine categories, with the words in each in alphabetical order: economy, environment, ethics, personalities & relationships, politics, street slang, social networking, stress & life, technology. I have separated them below for easy navigation since it’d be a long post to read all at once otherwise, though definitely worth the time!
A lot of the terms are quite hilarious and clever, and are quite hip, I must say. However, I also must say that in their research regarding terms involving President Barack Obama’s name, they didn’t give me credit for some of them… not the least the term Obonics, which I coined to summarize all the Barack Obama slangs and expressions. Maybe the term hasn’t caught on, but Obamazon certainly has as it was in the dictionary. When I Googled it back in January, not one result came up! I had it first online, at least, which was where they got a lot of their words anyway. Pity!
But here is the list of about 150 words that made the Cultural Dictionary. They had a few pages on trends which I did not include because I didn’t think they’d last. You’d be caught unhip for using them whereas I think these words will remain hip for at least a little while longer.
And hey, if you’re learning English as a Second or Foreign Language, you’d be ahead of the native speakers using these terms! You can also do small exercises with these words by having students explain a small group to the class, or as assignments. There are a LOT more boring words I could easily think of to do such exercises with compared to these ones!
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 9.7
What’s left of a 401(k) after a recession.
Black Friday (n)
The huge sale-filled shopping Friday after Thanksgiving day.
Brickor mortis (n)
A term used to describe a housing market that has completely dried up.
A person who is cash poor, possession rich, but not wanting to sell those possessions until their value returns in the market place.
Working a second job while on the clock for your first job.
An individual who takes great pride in finding high quality items at low prices.
The realization that one has more stuff than they could ever possibly need or use.
Extended financial families (n)
A household comprised of multiple generations that lives under one roof as a way to save money and/or make ends meet.
A meal prepared at home which attempts to mimic a takeaway, or to-go meal.
A practice of renting or leasing so as to remain financially flexible and nimble in bad economic times.
A frugal, yet fashionable person.
An acronym for High Earner Not Rich Yet. Refers to people who have healthy paychecks but aren’t rich.
An activity spurred on by the recession which seeks to replace going out, e.g. cocktail parties instead of bar nights and dinner parties instead of expensive restaurants.
Lehman sisters (n)
Significant others of fired Lehman Brothers executives who bond over their new found status further down the socio-economic ladder.
The new breed of haggler who uses all of the tools of the information age to bargain with sellers, especially in areas where bargaining once didn’t exist.
Ostrich effect (n)
Investors who stick their heads in the sand during bad financial times.
Small add-on benefits offered to consumers by companies to get or retain business.
Companies who blatantly use support for breast cancer research to promote their own company.
Slang for “poor,” as popularized by the HBO series Summer Heights High.
Better economic times before the recession.
Coming out of retirement to return to the workforce.
The practice of spreading false, inaccurate and misleading information.
Stealth wealth (n)
When wealthy go underground when it comes to purchasing and purchases so as not to be subjected to luxury shame.
Zombie bank (n)
Originally coined during the 1980s Savings and Loan crisis, the term has resurfaced today to refer to financially insolvent banks that continue to operate because of backing from the government.
Bootleg trail (n)
A path that has been created by its users, such as mountain bikers or ATV riders, rather than by official designers.
A person who has an unhealthy obsession with minimizing their carbon usage. Related: Energyexia.
Carbon trading (n)
A system which provides entities with permits for how much pollution they are allowed to create. These permits can then be bought and sold amongst other entities.
Chemical equator (n)
A chemical barrier in the atmosphere which separates the polluted air of the earth’s Northern Hemisphere from that of the relatively unpolluted Southern Hemisphere.
Dinosaur wine (n)
A term to refer to oil or its derivatives.
Not relying on consumers to make eco-friendly choices, but instead removing the decision from their hands with either government or business actions. Thus, eco-consciousness is embedded in daily life.
The increased cost of doing business due to the rising concerns over eco-consciousness.
Modifying, or modding, one’s car to make it more fuel efficient.
One who chooses their partner based upon a shared interest in eco-conscious causes.
Edible estates (n)
Coined by U.S. campaigner Fritz Haeg, it refers to the practice of digging up front lawns and replacing them with edible plants and greens.
The strict following of a regime to reduce one’s own carbon footprint. Related: Carborexic.
Residential land set aside to cultivate natural plant life that grows without cultivation, chemicals or cutting.
A negative term to refer to a gas hog…usually associated with SUV drivers.
Gas sipper (n)
This 30-year-old term referring to a car that “sips lightly” found new relevance in 2008 with the rise in gas prices.
Green audit (n)
The act of assessing a business based upon its perceived adherence to environmentally friendly practices.
Workers employed in environmental and sustainability related fields. Think organic farmer.
A government’s or community’s environmental plan. Also a verb to make such a plan.
A nickname for Beijing that refers to its polluted skies.
Small energy-absorbing panels that can fit on everything from windows to backpacks.
Natural capitalism (n)
An economic theory which seeks to combine the new found concern with eco-friendliness with business interests in order to maximize profit while minimizing environmental impact.
The latest word for energy efficiency, coined by Amory Lovins.
Popcorn storm (n)
A term that refers to a short, unexpected rain shower that disappears as abruptly as it appeared.
The process of returning an area to its original and natural vegetative state.
A professional who leaves the city for a rural area, but maintains their professional life.
Socially conscious urban professional.
The Sampled Red List Index. An index that attempts to measure the threat of extinction to the various species of life on the planet.
To give an object a better and more upscale existence.
Witches’ knickers (n)
Plastic bags caught in trees or bushes.
Baling out (v)
Unleashing an epic storm of rage and profanity on the closest available target, regardless of said target’s responsibility for your stress level, a la Christian Bale’s infamous tirade captured during Terminator Salvation filming.
A person who ruins something beyond repair, derived from the actions of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who tried to sell a vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.
Goldman Sacked (v)
A term referring to fired investment bankers after the economic downfall in the fall of 2008.
Land it like Sully (v)
Derived from US Airways pilot Chesley Sullenberger’s heroic landing of a plane in New York’s Hudson River, a term now used to reference an unusual but successful solution to a problem.
To knowingly deceive and scam someone financially.
A rent-a-cop on a power trip, often found at airports and in office buildings.
Getting caught in an amazingly epic feat of hypocrisy. Such as being a married government official who publicly champions family values and anti-corruption reforms while simultaneously spending ridiculous sums of money on prostitutes.
Personalities & Relationships
Socially awkward people who are charming in a nerdy sort of way.
Baby goggles (n)
Ugly babies who are only seen as adorable by their parents.
The act of staying home with one’s significant other for a romantic night of cuddling rather than going out with one’s friends. Seen as an act of betrayal by the friends.
A derogatory term for an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who dumped you unceremoniously online and is now seen in public with a new love interest.
A person who pretends to be gay or adopts gay mannerisms.
Friends of Mom. A woman’s friends who remember her pre-kid(s), and can thereby reassure her that she still maintains a level of coolness.
One’s circle of close friends who feel like family.
A combination of geek and equals. Denotes two people who have a comparable knowledge of nerdy knowledge.
A person who, in an attempt to be hip, condemns a behavior they engage in themselves.
Hot room (n)
A social setting that mixes together people who aren’t necessarily on friendly terms with each other.
Junior moment (n)
An immature act performed by an adult who has lapsed into childish behavior. Cousin of the senior moment.
A belief that the needs of children trump the needs of adults, and should be deferred to.
Niche dating (n)
Choosing who one dates based upon a very narrow set of criteria.
Precop (n) abbr. (Pre-copulation)
A cousin of the prenuptial agreement (prenup), a precop is a mutual agreement between two parties that states no emotional attachment will result from engaging in casual sex.
A friendship that involves the extra “benefits” of a dating relationship, but doesn’t require any commitment.
A politically involved actor.
Caribou Barbie (n)
Former vice-presidential candidate and Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin.
Initially coined in the late 1990s to describe people actively involved in online communities, it now describes Obama campaigners and contributors.
Digital Prez-ence (n)
President Obama’s successful use of social media during the campaign led to him being dubbed “the first digital President.”
Generation O (n)
The generation of people approximately 18 to 35 years old who supported and voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.
A term used to represent the needs of an average middle-class American. Popularized by Joe the Plumber and John McCain in the third presidential debate in the 2008 elections.
Someone who donates a small amount to a cause or campaign.
One of several terms referencing the excitement around the election of Barack Obama. Other terms: Bamelot, Baraccoli, Baracked, Barackintosh, Baracklamation, Barackstar, Barackupied, Barackwurst, Nobama, Obamacam, Obamacize, Obamafy, Obamalicious, Obamalujah, Obamamatopoeia, Obamamentum, Obamanos, Obamaphoria, Obamarama, Obamascope, Obamatopia, Obamatose, Obamazon.
Obama/Not Obama (adj)
The US President’s influence has spread so far that his name has reportedly become synonymous with “cool” on the streets of London.
Reverse Bradley Effect (n)
The flip-side of the Bradley effect, which asserts that white voters say they will vote for a minority candidate in public, but then won’t actually vote for said candidate. The Reverse Bradley Effect holds that a white voter will profess to not voting for a minority candidate, but then actually vote for the candidate.
Activism without all the activity.
Tech czar (n)
A nickname for the White House chief technology office.
Commit suey (v)
To eat way too much Chinese food that results in a queasy feeling.
A restaurant/grocery store combination.
Rebel teachers who favor DIY methods, maverick attitudes and innovative classroom tools over mainstream methods and tools.
Slow travel (v)
A philosophy of travel that says that the journey is as important, if not more important, than the destination. Slow travelers focus on methods of travel that take longer in an effort to experience more along the way.
Not quite a hangover.
BlackBerry prayer (n)
The hunched over posture common amongst those absorbed in mobile device usage, reminiscent of the pose of one deep in prayer.
An Internet personality who has attained celebrity status.
Inspired by crowd sourcing, it’s the practice of attracting financing for a project by bringing unrelated people together, usually through the Internet.
A tech-savvy entrepreneur who harnesses the power of social networking and social media to help fuel their online business.
Removing vowels from unwanted text in Internet forums and online communities to censor unwanted postings.
For My Information: A phrase used when texting to gain personal information.
For The Win: An acronym used on Twitter.
Used to signify that something is a little less than Gr8 (great), but still pretty good.
The name of the # when used in a Tweet. You can track a word by using a “hashtag” in front of it.
Instant entrepreneurship that comes from the ability for anyone to go online and sell a product or an idea.
Downtime now filled by playing with cell phones, iPhones, Blackberrys, etc.
Mullet strategy (n)
A play off of the slang definition of the mullet haircut, this term denotes a website that features professionally written and edited content on its main pages but relies on user-generated content for the rest of the site.
Non-stop updating of one’s Facebook status and Twitter feeds, regardless of how annoying this can be for others, in an attempt to gain recognition, feeling of importance and even fame within their social network.
Taking the practice of professional networking too far, often using online tools, until one begins to appear desperate and even mentally unbalanced.
An online, in-depth ethnographic interview that focuses on life online.
Grassroots movement that is based on the Internet.
OLO (n) abbr. for “Only Laughed Once.”
Used to express mild amusement at a topic, rather than full-on amusement, which would be denoted by LOL, or “Laughing Out Loud.”
Online analyst (n)
Someone who monitors online discussions and commentaries about a company or brand on social networks and blogs.
Using a text message to send sexually explicit photos or messages.
Social network fatigue (n)
Becoming overwhelmed by the constant invitations to join various social networks.
Social notworking (v)
Surfing a social networking site instead of working.
Textually frustrated (adj)
The frustration felt while waiting for a reply from a text or SMS.
People who meet on Twitter and then meet up in the real world.
An overdose of Twitter.
Stress & Life
A form of narcolepsy that takes place as soon as you get in a moving car.
Cheese and rice (n)
A PG, blasphemy-free alternative to saying “Jesus Christ” when frustrated.
Excessively discussing small problems, especially online, which can result in an inordinately high stress level.
The unshakable feeling that one has heard this particular argument, or bull, before.
Foot-in-mouth disease (n)
An affliction which causes its sufferers to repeatedly say thing’s one should not say, or put one’s foot in one’s mouth.
Foul-weather friend (n)
A friend who is only around when things are bad for them and they need your help.
Taking a break from saying negative or snarky things, also known as “hating.”
An affliction that causes one to forget where something is located in their kitchen.
To consciously go back on your promises to quit drinking or smoking.
The condition of somebody who is unable to deal with life, usually found couch surfing.
The constant state of exhaustion that comes from getting some sleep, but never enough.
Someone Else’s Problem. The idea that any particular problem which does not directly affect one is not one’s responsibility to solve, but rather another’s.
Smashed potatoes (adj)
Drunk to the point of being unable to function socially.
A text message which causes stress.
Stress puppy (n)
One who exists in a constant state of being stressed and whining about said stress.
Whole grazer (n)
One who goes to Whole Foods in order to try every free sample, but can’t actually afford to shop there.
The feeling of being overwhelmed by the constant flood of emails and work from your mobile device.
An old big clunky version of a Blackberry that is woefully dated and under featured.
Digital cliff (n)
June 12, 2009 when analog signals ceased broadcasting.
A driver who can’t help but take a picture of an accident with their mobile phone.
Epic fail (n)
A slang Internet term used to denote a failure of epic proportions.
Setting of physical boundaries with GPS tracking system or cell phone to keep tabs on where people roam and alerts when they stray too far from the set area.
Ghost call (n)
Receiving an inadvertent phone call, initiated by the accidental dialing of a number on one’s cell phone.
Theft of iPhones or iPods.
Mug-me earphones (n)
iPod earphones that draw attention to those with iPods.
To “conquer” something or someone. Derived from the word “own,” [and read like pone] it has become Internet smack talk slang for the general humiliation of someone.
An often unhealthy obsession with tracking aspects of one’s life, state of mind, body, etc. using websites and other technologies.
Being hesitant to share the contents of one’s iPod due to fear of mockery for one’s musical taste.
Slip of the thumb (v)
Unintentionally sending a text message to the wrong recipient, often with embarrassing results.
The next generation of video conferencing, which involves full body imaging for near life-like conferencing environments.
TiVo tension (n)
Stress caused by a digital recording device filling up and the inability to catch up on recorded TV shows in a timely manner.
Update mandate (n)
Consumers are becoming fatigued as they’re faced with the downside of living in a constantly evolving, 24/7 world. It’s becoming nearly impossible to stay up to speed with the latest in both physical (e.g. latest versions) and immaterial (e.g. latest information) worlds.
The raised volume of one’s speech due to the misguided belief that raising one’s voice will help overcome a poor connection.