BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
N Ireland
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Thursday, 20 December, 2001, 10:58 GMT
E-cyclopedia's glossary of 2001
Many of the defining moments of 2001 spawned their own words and phrases. At year's end, we take stock of these additions to the news lexicon.

Click here to add your contenders for the words of 2001 - forget rhinestones, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers, country music has been rebooted and it's cool, we're told. Alternative country singers such as Ryan Adams (no... Rrrr-yan) have been lauded by Elton John, no less.

asymmetric warfare - a conflict in which the two sides are not equally matched in strength, but where the weaker employs unconventional tactics, as in the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

blinking - the paper-thin euphemism of choice for dizzy Big Brother contestant Helen Adams during her flirtation with fellow house resident Paul Clarke. "I love blinkin', I do."

Big Brother's Helen Adams
Helen Adams: Blinkin', good fun
box-cutter - knife-like tool with a short, retractable blade used by the 11 September hijackers to take over four passenger aircraft, according to Barbara Olson when she phoned her husband from Pentagon-bound American Airlines Flight 77.

burka - the traditional Muslim cloaking garment forced on all Afghan women by the ruling Taleban. Discarded by many with the regime's fall, during the war the all-covering burka was de rigueur for foreign journalists (including John Simpson) trying to sneak into Afghanistan unhindered.

chicken tikka masala - a day-glo orange curry dish invented in the UK, CTM combines traditional Indian tandoori chicken with a masala sauce suited to the British palate. The nation's most popular supper, CTM was hailed last April as the symbol of multi-cultural Britain by then-foreign minister Robin Cook.

civil society - tactic briefly endorsed by the Conservatives in the general election, which in essence proposed that many of the functions of the welfare state would be performed by charities or religious groups.

John Simpson dons a burka
Beneath the veil... John Simpson
contiguous cull - the controversial policy of killing apparently healthy livestock on farms surrounding properties infected with foot and mouth. Lovable Phoenix the calf was famously one of the few animals to win a reprieve from the slaughterman's clutches.

• cutaneous - anything of or pertaining to the skin, but "cutaneous" reached beyond medical circles with the posting of anthrax-tainted letters in the US. Several people (including an infant) suffered cutaneous contact with anthrax pores, while five others succumbed to more deadly inhalation anthrax.

• daisy-cutter - not the colloquial term for a low-flying cricket ball or baseball, but the world's largest conventional bomb. Used to devastating effect in Afghanistan, the 12-foot-long BLU-82 is filled with 5,700kg of explosive "slurry" which incinerates everything within a 600-yard radius.

• detached - once reserved to describe houses, the word was given psychiatric overtones when Downing Street spin doctor Alastair Campbell told journalists that Peter Mandelson was "curiously detached" while explaining his role in the Hinduja passport row. "There are things that Peter can't explain, can't explain even to himself."

Phoenix the Calf
Phoenix escaped the flames
• economy class syndrome - in which those who cannot afford spacious business or first class seats are packed into the back of the plane and then, possibly as a result, suffer fatal blood clots. Others argue that deep-vein thrombosis can strike even the rich on long-haul flights.

• emotional correctness - a variation on political correctness, in which people feel that peer pressure demands they react in a certain way. Ross Clark wrote in the Spectator on 22 October that emotional correctness had "come to paralyse some areas of public life and to restrict proper debate as to how we should handle the terrorist threat".

• friends reunited - phenomenally successful website that does exactly what it says on the tin - it puts people who last saw each other behind the bike sheds back in touch. Now one of the UK's fastest-growing websites, and the couple who set it up to find their own friends have quit their jobs to work on it fulltime.

• gastroporn - the tendency for celebrity cooks to use suggestive descriptives (eg a "tantalising" coulis) or flirty soft-focus photography in their TV shows and recipe books. Typified by the work of "Domestic Goddess" Nigella Lawson.

Monica Lewinsky's dress
Does Bill Clinton miss Monica's dress?
• Ground Zero - the area directly under any exploding bomb (though especially an atomic device), Ground Zero became a proper noun to describe the devastated site of the collapsed World Trade Center towers.

• impeachment nostalgia - phrase coined by novelist Douglas Coupland to characterise depression following 11 September and a hankering for the era in which details of stains on Gap dresses were the main obsession of media and politics.

Jordan - the pneumatic glamour model (real name Katie Price) has managed to put her desert kingdom namesake in the shade. She stood for Parliament (and lost), loved Manchester United star Dwight Yorke (and lost him, too), but will keep what she says is their unborn child. "It wasn't planned and it's come at the wrong time but what can I do about it?"

let's roll - the final words of Todd Beamer to a telephone operator before he and other passengers tackled hijackers on doomed United Airlines Flight 93. The call to arms was later adopted by President Bush's speech writers ("We have our marching orders. My fellow Americans, let's roll.") and immortalised on a bumper sticker ("Flight 93: Let's Roll!").

• net babies - infants put up for adoption over the internet. Alan and Judith Kilshaw caused much moral disquiet when they paid 8,000 for American twins, Kimberley and Belinda. Their odyssey to keep the baby girls took the Kilshaws to social services, the courts and, of course, The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Model Jordan
Jordan kept her chin up this year
online paedophile - ostensibly a child abuser who cruises internet chatrooms and swaps pornographic images online. The term appeared in a highly controversial edition of the satirical TV show Brass Eye, and was subsequently adopted with enthusiasm by the very media outlets the programme makers sought to parody.

people's peers - the 15 independent life peers elevated as part of a reform of the House of Lords. Selected by the Appointments Commission to "better reflect the different experience and backgrounds" of UK citizens, the people's peers include a senior diplomat, an Oxbridge don, an oil company boss and a former Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

plane-spotter - a variation on the much derided train-spotter, so-called "aviation enthusiasts" brighten their lives by observing, photographing or cataloguing aircraft. Largely a British hobby. The Greek authorities detained a group of UK military plane buffs for a month, suspecting them of spying.

Alan and Judith Kilshaw with the net babies
You can't buy me custody
Planet Desmond - media commentator Roy Greenslade's sneering name for the newspaper stable run by porn baron turned Fleet Street magnate Richard Desmond. Rumours about how Mr Desmond runs the once-revered Daily Express delight journalists - who don't work for him.

politically sound - a variation on political correctness, identified by writer Matthew Parris, who said that those on the right, like him, had their own version of "PC". Thus people who were being "PS" would say "Aids" even when its use was incorrect, they would say "country pursuits" instead of "blood sports", and would always say "chairman" instead of "chair" or "chairperson".

special relationship - the much debated bond between the UK and the US. Coined in World War Two, commentators had speculated that the phrase was doomed, with George Bush seeming an unlikely soul mate for Tony Blair. The relationship was re-invigorated by 11 September, as Mr Blair proved his stalwart ally credentials by vowing to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the US.

3G phones - several third-generation mobile phone networks were switched on this year in high-tech Japan, glamorous Monaco and... the Isle of Man. But will anyone use them? First 3G was hailed as a magnificent money-spinner, then as a technological marvel no-one would buy. Now commentators are cautiously saying customers may well like 3G phones after all.

Queen Victoria
"Don't wrap it, I'll wear it home"
Victoriana - those who want to be up-to-the-minute with fashion this winter have gone thoroughly out-of-date. Their look is so this century that it draws inspiration from the long-gone days of corsets, bustles and frill hems. Think vintage chic, think Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge, darlings.

• White Stripes - Detroit musical duo Meg and Jack White (Siblings? A once-married couple? The jury's still out) were declared the "future of rock 'n' roll" by such arbiters of taste as NME, the Guardian and, of course, BBC Radio 4's Today Programme.

• weblog - a log of webpages a surfer has visited and recommends. In 2001 the term also came to mean public online journals where cyber diarists let the world in on the latest twists and turns of their love, work and internal lives. "The majority ... are not all that interesting," says weblog-tracking psychologist John Grohol.

wi-fi - the catchier name for 802.11b, the wireless network standard tipped to have us all downloading audio, video and data without the need for pesky cables.

worm - replacing bug and virus, worm is the new word of menace on the web. Worms, such as 2001's Code Red and Nimda, are malicious programs which spread across networks looking for vulnerable machines to infect.

Some of your suggestions so far:

Text-dumping or m-dumping - a new way of getting ride of your boy/girlfriend by texting him/her
Jean-Michel Vernay, England

Moore-ing: the act of burying bad news.
Mohamed Mulla, UK

Talibanisation - strict enforcement of oppressive, anachronistic rules in the name of religion
B.V.L.Narayanarow, India, US

Fauxriental - orientally-themed furniture sold at large furniture retailers such as Ikea, often displaying Chinese/Japanese characters inappropriately (e.g. upside down).
Adrian Furby, Australia

Terrorgoating - using the events of 9/11 as an excuse for doing what was planned even before the attacks, whether that be a business' massive layoffs or government's excessive military spending (or even breaking it off with a lover).
Joe Cecchini, US

Generation X-Wing - late 20/early 30-somethings who first saw Star Wars at an impressionable age. [See also 'Disillucased' - members of above group who were profoundly let-down by The Phantom Menace].
Tom Lennon, UK

Leader envy - people in the US who wish Tony Blair was their President.
Lori, US

Euronating - the media hype over introducing the Euro.
Jim Romaines, Sweden

e-metics - the sickening and systematic habit of prefacing words with e- to indicate internet activity; often used by lazy sub-e-ditors.
Ian, Scotland

Bandwidth Bandit - a person who takes up all or the majority of available bandwidth of a shared network connection.
Scott Baldry, England

Euro-creep - increasing use of the euro beyond the eurozone.
Nik Morrell, UK

9/11 for the WTC attacks.
Ashraf Moftah, Cairo, Egypt

E-sackings - act of staff dismissal via e-mail.
Tim Saltmarsh, UK

Potterphobia - fear of being bombarded by mega-hype surrounding the CS Lewis-lite Potter books and/or movie whenever you ventured out of your house, turned on your TV or radio, or read a newspaper.
Rick, England

Simpsoning - act of liberating whole cities single-handedly, armed with nothing more than a reporter's notebook and a detachment from reality.
Mark Alvesson, London, UK

Creeding frenzy - annual deluge of media coverage that damns the recently named Turner Prize winner and paradoxically proclaims that contemporary art is dead and anyone can create it.
Brian Pyle, US

Queen of Mean - quiz show host and byword for wives, ex-wives, and mother-in-laws.
Steve Saul, UK

Click here to return

Send us your comments:

Your E-mail Address:



Disclaimer: The BBC will put up as many of your comments as possible but we cannot guarantee that all e-mails will be published. The BBC reserves the right to edit comments that are published.





Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |