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Words, Oct. 29



Angst for the memories:

“Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said the Razorbacks had a ‘great' practice and a lot of fun Wednesday. ‘Really fast-paced,' he said. ‘Execution was really good. Very little angst.' ”

Football players are subject to angst? I thought they just rubbed dirt on the place that was bleeding. “Middle Linebacker Ruffin Reddy will miss Saturday's game because of angst.” That wouldn't make you feel good about your team's defense.

Angst means “a feeling of dread, anxiety or anguish,” and dates from the middle of the 19th century. Teen-agers are particularly susceptible, it seems. The word has become widely used in recent years. Maybe too widely, if defensive coordinators are talking about angst. Before long we'll be hearing that the Razorbacks have issues concerning a past loss, that they can't win again until they achieve closure.

I'll bet Bronko Nagurski never had angst.


Row, row, row your bust:

Robust (“strong, powerful”) is being ridden hard too, most prominently in the debate over health-care reform. Surely we all know by now that a puny public option would be unequal to the task before it. Only a robust public option can succeed.

“Gary Mickelson, spokesman for the world's largest meat processor, said the company has a ‘robust testing protocol' for the portions of beef and fat trimmed from costlier cuts … ”

“Truman's response to the Japanese refusal to surrender has been criticized by some historians as ‘too robust.' ”

Bronko Nagurski was robust.


High annoyance:

Neither angst nor robust made a list of “annoying words” compiled in a survey by Marist College. Whatever was named the word most annoying to Americans. It has a dismissive quality — “who cares what you think?” Like and you know (two words, if you want to be technical) were high on the list of offenders, along with anyway, It is what it is, and At the end of the day.

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