Linguist, lexicographer, writer, editor, broadcaster

Early nominations for word of the year: wide stance, toe-tapper, and snus

Two days ago I spoke with Becky Boone of the Associated Press in Idaho about two terms that have come out of the bathroom sex scandal surrounding Senator Larry Craig. She managed to get out of me that they will be among my nominations for “word of the year” when the American Dialect Society holds its annual vote in January, this year in Chicago.

wide stance: n. the posture of a man who appears to be soliciting gay sex but, in fact, is not. There are connotations here of extreme manliness: if you’re well endowed, you have to stand a certain way. Saturday Night Live more or less defined “wide stance” as claiming one point of view in public but practicing another in private, also known as “hypocrisy.”

toe-tapper: n. a homosexual. This has already been used to some scandal by the New York Post.

Another word I’ll probably nominate is snus, a kind of sucking tobacco a bit more refined than chaw. It comes in little sachets that you put between your cheek and gum and then you try not to vomit. The product seems to be really picking up steam, but I italicize that word “seems” advisedly: it’s possible that it’s merely the result of a marketing push by Big Tobacco, in which case I will not nominate it.

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Grant Barrett