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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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The American Dialect Society has posted its Words of the Year 2002 list. The winner: weapons of mass destruction. Ugh. I have grown to completely hate this word. I have disliked it since my first encounter. It resounds of military euphemism while signifying nothing since it could encompass chemical, biological, nuclear, and even conventional weapons. I can’t think of a more massive destruction wrought this century then the firestorms of Dresden during World War II. What’s the meaning of the word beyond “weapon”?

Some of the other words were creative though without much chance of lasting. “Teen angstrel” meaning “angst-ridden popular singer.” “Walking pinata” meaning “person subjected to relentless criticism.” “201(k)” meaning a “401(k) ruined by stock losses.” “Embetterment,” apparently used by George Bush in a speech, reminds me a lot of the made-up Simpsons word “embiggen.”