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Words Nov. 10

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Our discussion of overused words of the 2000s (Oct. 20) brought an e-mail from Michael Haddigan. “Last year’s word was ‘metrosexual,’ ” he writes.

Ask Yahoo says that a metrosexual is “a straight guy fastidious in appearance, in touch with his feminine side, and living in an urban area. … Boiled down to its essence, the term refers to a single man who loves to indulge and pamper himself — going against the stereotype of men as boorish slobs with questionable grooming habits.” WordSpy has a similar definition: “An urban male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle.”

The word was coined by British journalist Mark Simpson in 1994, and as he originally used it, a metrosexual could be of any sexual orientation. Outside Britain, it now usually means a heterosexual who has some of the interests and aspirations generally associated with gays. There’s a TV show called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” I haven’t seen it, but it sounds like a training ground for metrosexuals.

As I’ve said before (a surprisingly large number of my observations fall in this category), the world changed when ballplayers began using hair dryers. That was back in the ’70s. They didn’t know it, but those fellows were the first metrosexuals.

 

More from Haddigan. “I saw a piece on CNN the other day about a new diet thing — and a new word for this year. Vegetarians won’t eat meat ever. A new breed is emerging. ‘Flexitarians’ mostly don’t eat meat but may occasionally surrender to a craving for fish or a big ol’ greasy steak.”



In our discussion of overused words Oct. 20, I forgot to mention proactive. A few years ago, it seemed to pop up annoyingly in every other sentence. Now its use has greatly declined. Good riddance.



A newspaper article quoted Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., as saying that a certain judicial nominee had “a tough road to hoe.” I wonder if it was the senator or the reporter who didn’t know that rows, not roads, require hoeing.

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