Monday, February 11, 2008

Weasel Words & Sokolowski.

[[This from one of my favorite podcasts—Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day, with Peter Sokolowski—subscribe to it thru iTunes if you like words as much as I do. Also with a little bio tidbit about Peter.]]

Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster, served as primary editor for Merriam-Webster's French-English Dictionary and worked on defining and etymological dating for Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. He is the host of Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day Podcast and can be heard monthly (on the first Monday of each month, at 7:35 a.m.--PST) on Southern California's KKZZ radio. In addition to his lexicographical work, Peter hosts a jazz program on WFCR (an NPR affiliate in Amherst, MA) and is an accomplished trumpet player.

[[Ah, weasel words...where would politicians and business people be without them?]]

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for January 18, 2008 is: weasel word \WEE-zul-WURD\ noun
: a word used in order to mislead a person or to avoid a straight answer Example sentence: Instead of just saying outright that jobs are going to be cut, the head of the company has taken to using weasel words like “corporate restructuring.” Did you know? Some people believe that weasels can suck the insides out of an egg without damaging the shell. An egg thus weasel-treated would look fine on the outside, but it would actually be empty and useless. We don't know if weasels can really do that, but the belief that they could caused people to start using “weasel word” to refer to any term intended to give the impression that everything is fine when the speaker is really trying to avoid answering a question, telling the truth, or taking the blame for something.