The word usage-o-meter thread


Chairman of the bored
Staff member
I was getting ready to post on RTDNTOTO how I thought Rachel Maddow was an okay journalist but comes off as being terribly.....smarmy. but I wasn't entirely happy with the choice of word 'smarmy' and wondered if there was perhaps a more accurate synonym, so I googled 'smarmy' (choose the expanded view) and noted there was a graph for the top entry which purports to show the frequency the word has appeared in writing since the 1800's. Evidently, smarmy was barely mentioned at the dawn the of 20th century but its' use exploded exponentially since about the 1960's. Hmmm interesting, I thought. I saw another synonym listed and wondered if perhaps the word 'unctuous' might be a shade closer to the mark of the nuance I wanted to express. When I clicked on unctuous I saw the same graph, which in this instance showed the word evidently experienced peak usage at the dawn of the 19th century but its usage has fallen off steadily ever since. Hmmmm how interesting.

Has anyone else ever seen or noticed this google dictionary feature that shows how the word usage has varied over time? I think it's fascinating. I wonder how various other word usages have changed over time? How about the word 'twerp'? Huh, looks like it barely existed at the dawn of the 20th century but rose into popular parlance a bit during the 1940's, with its popularity dropping off after the 50's but then we see a huge resurgence of its use again around the late 1980's.

Any other interesting words you care to look up and report on?


Galactic Superstar
Interesting thread.

I thought the term "sessions" was newsworthy, and look what I got as the first definition:

plural noun: sessions
1. a meeting of a deliberative or judicial body to conduct its business.

Michele Zone

My dad was closing in on 41 when I was born. He was from a generation when a lot of folks became parents in their late teens or early twenties, so he was literally old enough to be my grandfather. In fact, my ex was like 2. 5 weeks younger than me and we graduated high school together. His paternal grandmother was a year older than my father.

So when I was in high school, I knew a lot of old fashioned words that my classmates in all the AP (advanced placement) classes didn't know. Like husband, as in animal husbandry. They just thought it meant a married man. They didn't know it meant to frugally manage resources and also was about the care of animals on a farm.

My dad gave me hell one day for mispronouncing strop, which can also be spelled strap but it's pronounced strop. Just ask my dad (by seance, I guess, since he is no longer with us).

Dad hunted. We had a garden out back. Mom cooked from scratch and sewed a lot of my clothes.

Hello, my name is Michele and I'm a refugee from the 17th century!

Hi Wannaplan? I don't recall seeing you around here since I popped back in a few months back, but that could just be my terrible eyesight and Swiss cheese for brains misrepresenting reality again. 8-!
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