Vocabulary Study: Informal Words


Her next book was an essay collection titled “Vamps and Tramps”, a collection of her writings since her previous essay collection, and the mixed critical response generally concurred that too much was written on too wide a variety of topics.
vamp = A type of femme fatale.


Inevitably, he's wrong. Long relegated to the back seat of the software development process in favor of ever-more useless features, usability has recently been chloroformed, hog-tied and stuffed in the trunk. Exhibit A: the newly prereleased Netscape 6. The tyranny of the skins has begun.

Pity the poor slob who just wants to get something done. Set adrift in a sea of functionality he can neither comprehend nor control — buried in toolbars, insulted by assistants — he can only look at the state of the average application's user interface and think that things can't possibly get any worse.


Camp is an aesthetic sensibility wherein something is appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value. The concept is closely related to kitsch, and things with camp appeal are described as being "campy" or "cheesy". When the usage appeared, in 1909, it denoted: ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical, and effeminate behaviour, and, by the middle of the 1970s, the definition comprised: banality, artifice, mediocrity, and ostentation so extreme as to have perversely sophisticated appeal. American writer Susan Sontag's essay Notes on "Camp" (1964) emphasised its key elements as: artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and ‘shocking’ excess. Camp as an aesthetic has been popular from the 1960s to the present.
Camp (style) 2011-02-12


While some state media echoed Wang's sentiment, many netizens questioned his every statement from the death toll to the cause and called him the face of a ministry mired in allegations of corruption and ineptitude.

The quick sacking of three top local railway officials in Shanghai — who were in charge of the affected rail lines — failed to placate the public, either. The announced new Shanghai railway chief prompted more scorn than applaud, as the replacement — the railway ministry's chief dispatcher — was once demoted for his role in another fatal train accident in 2008 that killed 72 people.

Back online, many users — already jittery about safety in their daily life — now view China's high-speed rail, long considered a symbol of the country's fast rise, as a metaphor of its troublesome approach to development.

Chinese netizens outraged over response to fatal bullet train crash By Steven Jiang. @ http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/07/25/china.train.accident.outrage/


For antismoking activists in the U.S., the game these days is hardball.
The Butt Stops Here By Christopher John Farley. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,980572-4,00.html On smoking ban in California.
hardball = forceful uncompromising methods employed to gain an end. (MW)


[car review] Typically, when you read the 31 m.p.g. city/38 m.p.g. highway rating (34/41 with standard 5-speed manual), you are quickly alerted to the fact that mileage takes precedence over performance. Yet the 4-banger is alert and lively and surprisingly peppy. You get the traditional 4-cylinder growl when stepping hard on the pedal from the light. But at cruising speed, the commotion ceases. Darn thing travels quickly.
Echo More Proof Toyota Doesn't Repeat Mistakes By Jim Mateja. @ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-10-24/travel/9910240002_1_previa-toyota-tercel

• finagle → My initial interest in Frontier (a computer language) is to finagle some easy way to randomly rotate ads through a web page.

• grousing

• whodunit

• gumption → you've mustered the gumptions to do her…

• lemon → that car turned out to be a lemon.

• tipster

• highfalutin → Not that the stars [actors] buy all the highfalutin analyses of their work.

• bamboozle → “The potential for being bamboozled,” writes Brand, “is total.”

• hooligan → hood, hoodlum, ruffian, thug

• gripe → …European vacations, accompanied by a younger spouse who gripes about their erratic driving. → You know, a guy by the name of Mark has recently posted a series of gripes to this group. After all, we all got gripes of one form or the other, don't we?

• big-wig → …written by Larry Tesler (former Xerox big-wig, now Apple big-wig).

• dud → Other countries have replaced small bills with more durable coins — the British pound is one exmple. But the $1 Susan B. Anthony coin — introduced in 1970 — was a dud with U.S. audiences. [Time Mag?].

• snooty → She was, they said, too remote, too snooty.

• tony → All will offer revolving credit at rates expected to rival American Express' less tony rivals.

• kaput → … the film had not begun shooting. Last week, in fact, it looked kaput.

• flip-flop → now that he may have to flip-flop on the issue, he doesn't want to look as if he's flip-flopping.

• wishy-washy → That bookstore sells wishy-washy new-age stuff.

• fizzle → One hates to see ambitious artists [filmmaker] fail, even if their fizzles can be more provocative than the minor films that become major hits.

• cluck → the critics cluck.

• grill → he is grilling a suspect.

• swig → …then began cheering and toasting one another with swigs from champagne bottles.

• bird-dog → …to bird-dog Congress for funds.

• cutups → one of the cutups.

• boondoggle → Nobody's calling it a boondoggle now. (referring to Hubble Space Telescope)

• spiel → I made my spiel about how I could add to this company.

• gaga → …doing what he does best — rationalism gone gaga.

• scream → This scene from the [movie] Mask is a scream.

• chuck → finally it looks like the IBM world will chuck DOS.

• clout

• scad → There are scads of curve-fitting techniques.

• raft → asked a raft of questions.

• one-up → ENTPs [a type of personality] are the most able of all types to maintain a one-up position with others.

• one-upman ship → … this offends their joy in being masters of the art of one-upmanship.

• no-frills → …because of competition from the no-frills (airline) carriers.

• wheel-and-deal → Her world was far from the wheel-and-deal politics that her future husband cut his teeth on.

• fly-by-night

• hanky

• scadskedaddle

• bandwagon → Why is everyone suddenly jumping on the antismoking bandwagon?

• iffy → …although this sort of timetable tends to be iffy.

• jiffy

• blowhard → Unless they adjust to the new medium, professional writers can come across as self-important blowhards in debates with more nimble networkers. (about the clash of writing style of writers and internet writers)

• fritz → repairing VCRs that went on the fritz.

• powwow → has convened a celestial powwow of her most talented psychic colleagues.

• leastwise

• upper-crust

• fishbowl → she came to terms with bringing up (her children) in the proverbial fishbowl

• grit → every gangster, gunslinger and G.I. used cigarettes to emblematize their suavity, maturity, grit.

• daffy → Who the heck is the author? The developers seem okay, but she [author] seems quite daffy.

• hang-ups

• druthers

• togs

• pick-me-up

• hard-boiled

• bench-warmer

• war-horse

• foul-up

• warmed-over

• go-go → How can you not love and hate a city (Las Vegas) so crazily go-go that … [Time Mag.]

• umpteen

• hijack