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arachno­pho­bia

(uh-rak-nuh-FO-bee-uh) MEAN­ING: noun: An ir­ra­tional fear of spi­ders. ETY­MOL­OGY:

From Greek arakhne (spi­der) + -pho­bias (fear). Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1925. US­AGE:

“A Cal­i­for­nia univer­sity en­to­mol­ogy grad­u­ate stu­dent grew up in Mis­souri and as a child was of­ten right­fully warned about the dan­gers of brown recluse spi­ders. How­ever, she also de­vel­oped se­vere arachno­pho­bia to the point where she couldn’t even look at a pic­ture of a spi­der.”

back­ro­nym

(BAK-ro-nim)

MEAN­ING: noun: A word re-in­ter­preted as an acro­nym.

ETY­MOL­OGY:

A blend of back + acro­nym. Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1983.

NOTES:

In a back­ro­nym, an ex­pan­sion is in­vented to treat an ex­ist­ing word as an acro­nym. For ex­am­ple, some be­lieve that the word NEWS is an acro­nym for North, East, West, and South. In re­al­ity, the word is coined from “new” as in: What’s new? When nam­ing some­thing, some­times a suit­able name is cho­sen and then an acro­nym is retro­fit­ted on top of it: USA PA­TRIOT Act (Unit­ing and Strength­en­ing Amer­ica by Pro­vid­ing Ap­pro­pri­ate Tools Re­quired to In­ter­cept and Ob­struct Ter­ror­ism). The clunk­i­ness of the ex­pan­sion is a quick give­away. How about form­ing a back­ro­nym for ACRO­NYM it­self: A Con­trived Re­sult Of Nomen­cla­ture Yield­ing Mech­a­nism? Of­ten, back­ro­nyms serve a use­ful pur­pose as mnemon­ics. For ex­am­ple, see Ap­gar score.

US­AGE:

“The name of Mary­land’s bill, by the way, was the PRIME Act, named of course for Ama­zon’s Prime mem­ber­ship pro­gram. But the nomen­cla­ture of the ob­se­quious back­ro­nym was some­how more em­bar­rass­ing: Pro­mot­ing ext-Raor­di­nary In­no­va­tion in Mary­land’s Econ­omy.”

work­fare

(WUHRK-fer)

MEAN­ING: noun: A so­cial wel­fare pro­gram in which those re­ceiv­ing aid are re­quired to per­form work. ETY­MOL­OGY:

A blend of work + wel­fare. Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1968.

US­AGE:

“Af­ter win­ning power in 2010, Mr. Or­ban im­ple­mented a vast work­fare pro­gram in which me­nial tasks have been given to hun­dreds of thou­sands of job­seek­ers.”

lunk

(lungk)

MEAN­ING: noun: A dull or slow-wit­ted per­son. ETY­MOL­OGY:

Short for lunkhead, from lunk (a blend of lump + hunk) + head. Ear­li­est doc­u­mented use: 1867.

US­AGE:

“Bob ... be­ing a lunk, he stum­bles into a trap.”

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