published Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Cook: You've been Skillerned

The folks at Merriam-Webster Collegiate have just updated their dictionary, announcing Monday the addition of 150 new words.

There's a hipster, tech-world aura to the list of new words. Give them skin and bones, and these words would move to Portland, or maybe Tribeca. At random, I chose six words off the list, and cobbled them together in a sentence. See how skinny jeans this is.

At the hotspot, the freegan with the baby bump unfriended that catfish tweep.

Selfie made the list. So did fracking. And crowdfunding and hashtag, both of which seem blocky and compoundish, like two words parallel parking into one another.

The most poetic of the new words is steampunk, which just does so much with nine letters, sending you either toward a Spielbergian daydream, or immediately bringing back olfactory memories of that locker room smell from high school.

(Steampunk actually refers to a literary genre that reimagines 19th century society, and one of the finest steampunk novelists in America lives in Chattanooga, which is fracking awesome.)

Poutine made the list. About time. The word's been around for years. Even my 9-year-old knows it. The little genius uses it all the time: Dad, the dog's been poutine again.

What's that you say? It's the other poutine? Sorry. Apparently poutine also refers to a French-Canadian meal of french fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. Gee. How ... longlasting.

(Maybe it's not the dog that's been poutine after all.)

One of the oddest words chosen was Yoopers, which refers to that hardy population of ice-fishing Americans who live near Lake Superior. With their tundra culture and Scandaniavian roots, they're known for a unique dialect that goes something like this: da Yoopers live up dere near da big Great Lakes.

Sure. Fine. Good. But Merriam, if you're going to start rewarding regional dialects and unique cultures by putting them in the dictionary, you're making a big Yoopin' mistake if you don't include ours as well.

Let's begin.

Gig: a verb or noun, used as a general term that refers to modern technology.

The word is a big catch-all of sorts, like a conversational smokescreen used by people who pretend to know a lot about technology, but actually don't. (Ahem.)

For example: Sure thing, Bob, we can Gig-stream this over to you after lunch.

Or: Can't finish those reports until tomorrow. Gig's down.

Skillerned: a verb, used to describe a total and unquestioned beat-down, political or otherwise. For decades, Fred Skillern was the county's top politician-- the Sod Father -- who was known for strong-arm politics. Few people tangled with him. Even fewer won.

The beauty of this word is found in its flexibility. You can take it anywhere, using the word at Little League games to presidential debates.

For example: You got Skillerned.

S'up: an informal greeting, shorthand for "What's up?" Used by the outdoor community, the term is a nod to the growing sport of stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) and must precede any outdoor adventure, especially one that's never been done before.

First man, stepping out of his Subaru: S'up.

Second man, stepping off his fixed gear bike. S'up.

First man: Let's go longboard down the W-Road tonight after dark. S'up?

Second: S'uuuuupp yes, man.

The Ridgecut: an expletive.

The term refers to the theory that the I-24 ridgecut is the genesis-source of all other local traffic jams. Like the butterfly that flaps its wings in Japan, whatever happens on the ridgecut spreads outward to any and all other traffic headaches within 20 miles.

In other instances, ridgecut is a noun that refers to a new style of haircut.

Did you see all the ridgecuts at Riverbend?

DeBarge: an adjective and not to be confused with the wonderful local winery or the '80s R&B band of the same name. (Come on, everybody now: "to the beat of the rhythm of the night, dance until the morning light.")

DeBarge refers to the Casey Barge, this word is used in conjunction with any failed enterprise, large or small, or any eyesore, public or private.

I'm going to have the doctor look at this DeBarging mole on my neck.

Or: I'm afraid today's column is DeBarging awful.

Even worse, it might be poutine terrible.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
conservative said...

I saw "150 words" in the intro to Mr. Cook's piece and I had to laugh.

I am sure those "150 words" had nothing to with Mr. Cook's piece for the poor man probably couldn't tell you how to turn on a faucet in less that 150 words.

He and Ms. Sohn can write so much to say so little.

May 20, 2014 at 2:18 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

The regrettable thing about Mr. Cook's piece is that he makes no effort to really meet and know a person but rather casts unwarranted aspersions. Holding and objecting to a political view contrary to another is certainly legitimate (and likely at times to prevail) but denigrating one with whom you disagree because of it is impulsive and embarrassing.

If you took the time to know Mr. Skillern, you would find he is a very kind man who is dedicated to family, his electorate and children in general. He earned his way to where he is by the strength of his determination; he and his late son gave a great gift to Memorial Hospital for cancer research. He makes his choices in his political position based on his commitment to protecting the public trust. You may disagree with his position or methods, but get to know the man. Compare him to some of our notable pols who have languished in jail.

You owe him an apology, we and Mr. Cook in particular, ought to have evolved since the days of poison pen-journalism of the late 1800's and early 1900's. I've certainly agreed with Mr. Cook's take on a few things and disputed some of Mr. Skillern's positions, but besmirching a person simply because you dislike his politics gives me pause to rethink his (Cook's) character. I'd trust my pocketbook with Fred.

May 20, 2014 at 6:23 p.m.
timbo said...

Well, I feel like I have been "Cooked." That is hit with liberal bile again from a piss ant like Cook.

By the way, liberals don't apologize...they just insult and move on. Normal people would think, "How can they sleep at night?" These people are not normal or ethical.

Cook goes to sleep every night reading "Rules for Liberals."

May 21, 2014 at 1:29 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

timbo you are part of the problem of why there is so much hostility in politics, listen to your preacher

May 21, 2014 at 10:34 p.m.
timbo said...

Not thinking Cook was being insulting and hostile to Fred Skillern is bizarre. Just the fact that you didn't notice that means you are a wild-eyed liberal partisan, or just out to lunch.

Cook wrote that crap first...I only answered him in kind. Maybe Cook should listen to HIS preacher a little bit. Oh, that's right...liberals can say or do anything without being accountable.

May 22, 2014 at 5:01 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

gthe bottom line my dear timbo is if it is bad to smear someone it is bad to smear someone. The fact "he did it first" justifying responding in kind sounds like a playground excuse and is exactly what I was talking about in the last post. Liberal or conservative is irrelevant, being gracious and having an intelligent and having a respectful conversation is relevant.

May 22, 2014 at 8:45 p.m.
timbo said... are right..I shouldn't have called him a piss ant. The rest was ok.

May 23, 2014 at 9:27 a.m.
inquiringmind said...


May 23, 2014 at 1:21 p.m.
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