Cook: You've been Skillerned

Cook: You've been Skillerned

May 20th, 2014 by David Cook in Opinion Columns

David Cook

David Cook

Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Times Free Press.

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.