Monthly Archives: July 2009

De rigueur

De rigueur ( \də-(ˌ)rē-ˈgər\ ) is a French expression that literally means “of rigor” or “of strictness”. In English language usage, it means “necessary according to etiquette, protocol or fashion.” Something that is de rigueur is required by convention or fashion, but not by any hard rule. For example, among the upper classes during the Victorian era, dressing for dinner was de rigueur.


Yodeling (yodelling, jodeling) is a form of singing that involves singing an extended note which rapidly and repeatedly changes in pitch from the vocal or chest register (or “chest voice”) to the falsetto/head register; making a high-low-high-low sound. Used in many cultures throughout the world, in Alpine folk music, it was probably developed in the Swiss Alps as a method of communication between mountain peaks.


Paparazzi is a plural term for photographers who take candid photographs of celebrities caught unaware, at moments when the subjects do not expect to be photographed, such as when they shop, eat at a restaurant, swim or lay on the beach. The term is an eponym originating in the 1960 film “La dolce vita” directed by Federico Fellini where one of the characters is a news photographer named Paparazzo.


Wingsuit is a special jumpsuit that shapes the human body into an airfoil which can create lift. The wingsuit creates the airfoil shape with fabric sewn between the legs and under the arms. It is also known as a birdman suit or squirrel suit. A wingsuit can be flown from any point that provides sufficient altitude to glide through the air, such as skydiving aircraft or BASE jumping exit points.The wingsuit flier wears parachute equipment designed for skydiving or BASE jumping and will deploy it at a planned altitude and unzip the arm wings, if necessary and fly to a normal parachute landing


An avatar is a computer user’s representation of himself/herself or alter ego, whether in the form of a three-dimensional model used in computer games or a two-dimensional icon (picture) used on Internet forums and other communities. In English, the word has come to mean “an embodiment, a bodily manifestation of the Divine.” However, the Sanskrit word Avatara means “incarnation.” The term is used primarily in Hindu texts, e.g. Krishna is the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu the Preserver. It was in the computer game Ultima IV (1985), that the term “Avatar” was introduced. To become the “Avatar” was the goal of Ultima IV. The use of Avatar to mean online virtual bodies was popularised by Neal Stephenson in his cyberpunk novel Snow Crash (1992)

Blowing a raspberry

Blowing a raspberry (or making a Bronx cheer) is slang for showing contempt for someone. In action, “to give a raspberry” is to put one’s tongue between the closed lips and expel air forcibly with a resulting rude noise signifying derision. The Golden Raspberry Awards (Razzies), created by John Wilson in 1980, intends to counterpoint the Academy Awards by (dis)honoring the worst that the film industry has to offer.


Hothousing – The policy or practice of artificially accelerating the intellectual development of a child by intensive teaching from babyhood. ‘to cultivate in a hothouse’; in educational hothousing the children are treated as hothouse plants which can be ‘brought on’ by intensive education.


Valspeak: A variety of US slang which originated at the end of the seventies among teenage girls from the San Fernando valley in California and was later taken up more widely by youngsters in the US. Characterized by frequent repetition of ‘filler’ words (“like” and “totally”), emphasis on a small group of adjectives of approval or disapproval (“awesome”, “rad”),and a dizzy, giggly, schoolgirl style of delivery.

Spaghetti Western

Spaghetti Western, nickname for a sub-genre of Western film that emerged in the mid-1960s, so named because most were produced and directed by Italians and primarily shot in the Andalusia region of Spain or Sardinia (since they resembled the American Southwest). A usual theme in these films, because of the desert setting and the readily available southern Spanish extras,is the Mexican Revolution & Mexican bandits.


Gobsmacked – utterly astounded, taken unawares or suddenly and feeling wonder or astonishment. To be completely dumbfounded or shocked. It suggests that something is as surprising as being suddenly hit in the face. Gob, originally from Scotland and the north of England, is a dialect and slang term for the mouth.