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Old 08-13-2019, 08:02 AM
Gymnopithys is offline
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Does everyone in the anglophone world know the word "zinger" ?


I've lived more than 20 years in the US. I'm a "language freak" and have done research in lexicology all my (long) life and never saw or heard the word zinger untill I saw it in the last issue of Time magazine concerning US politics. Google gives several definitions and thesaurus.com gives many synonyms. Time quote "...all adept with a twitter zinger and prone to inflammatory statements..." I don't doubt dopers know this word but what about the millions others ?
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:08 AM
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I don't recall NOT knowing the word. I'd say it's always been in the vernacular here in Canada.

Last edited by Leaffan; 08-13-2019 at 08:08 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:14 AM
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Since this will mostly consist of people stating whether they know the word or not, let's move it to IMHO.

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Old 08-13-2019, 08:18 AM
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Since the word in the current sense is attested to as far back as 1955, and I encounter it frequently, I'm surprised the OP has not.

Merriam-Webster indicates it as being "US, informal," suggesting it might not be so widespread in other anglophone countries.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:30 AM
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Hostess Zingers. I love the raspberry
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:01 AM
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Known but rarely used in Australia, usually used to describe a rehearsed one-liner that doesn't quite hit the mark or falls desperately flat. Not sure if it has quite the same dud-joke meaning in other places.

The term was popularised during the 2014 Federal election when comedian Shaun Micallef would compile these unfunny quips from the leading politicians on his show.

Example here

I recall it being a fairly new and unusual word in these here parts back then.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
Hostess Zingers. I love the raspberry
E---xactly!
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:23 AM
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If, at gunpoint, I was forced to eat KFC then a Zinger Burger it would be.
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:50 AM
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Perhaps the problem is that the word is a mostly forgotten term, common only earlier than the OP's 20-year stay. I used to hear it or see far more often than today.

Google ngrams seems to contradict this, since the graph goes way up toward 2000. But when I checked the actual hits, I found that not a single one was for the slang use. They were all for somebody's name or Red Zinger tea or another nominative usage.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:29 AM
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Doesn't mean much to me, from my British perspective. Of course, doesn't mean other Brits don't know or use it - they probably do. I'm potentially just not down with the kids.

Zinger burger I've vaguely heard of, although I haven't entered a KFC... possibly ever.
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Old 08-13-2019, 10:59 AM
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I am familiar with Hostess Zingers from childhood. I learned of zinger meaning "a verbal barb, especially a clever and/or pithy one" maybe around high school sometime.

Born and raised in SE Louisiana, if region makes a difference. It's not a word you'll hear spoken out loud locally.

Throwing zingers on Twitter, as the OP gives in the Time magazine quote, would to me be a slight extension of the term.

...

Cecil himself would throw out the word "zinger" from time to time. Here's a classic Groucho Marx tale from one of his columns that perfectly demonstrates just what a "zinger" is:

Quote:
Quote:
Dear Cecil:

I heard a cute tale about how Groucho Marx supposedly got the hook while hosting a live broadcast of his famous TV quiz show, You Bet Your Life. As this micro-legend has it, Groucho was small-talking with a female contestant when the following exchange took place:

Groucho: So, you got any kids?
Female Contestant: Yes, Groucho, I have eleven children.
Groucho: Eleven?! Did you say eleven kids?
Female Contestant: Well, I love my husband.
Groucho: Lady, I love my cigar but I take it out of my mouth once in a while.

Supposedly, the program’s censors immediately stopped the broadcast and never let Mr. Marx do the show again.

I’ll admit the story does sound a little contrived. Still, as a hunter of truth in the forest of deceit, do you find any droppings of plausibility? More important, can I get it on VHS?

— William S., Arlington, Virginia
Cecil replies:

I’ve had to strangle so many show-biz myths in their cradles, it’s a pleasure to report on one that has some basis in fact. Groucho Marx, who regularly did for the airwaves what Cecil tries to do for the newspapers, really did pull off the exchange quoted above. In fact, he mentions it in a book he wrote with Hector Arce about his broadcast experiences called The Secret Word Is Groucho. But it didn’t happen at the end of his network career, it happened at the beginning, in 1947 or ’48, when You Bet Your Life was still on the radio. The censors didn’t stop the show, either; they just prevented the exchange from getting on the air. Groucho’s producers knew about his penchant for ribald humor, so they took the precaution of recording all his shows and cutting out the dirty parts before airtime.

The name of the female contestant was Mrs. Story. She lived in Bakersfield, California, and she had 19 children, all of whom came down for the show. Groucho says he asked Mrs. Story, “Why do you have so many children? That’s a big responsibility and a big burden.” Mrs. Story responded as indicated above, and Groucho then unloaded his zinger. The studio audience roared, but censor Robert Dwan gave it the ax, so you’re not going to find it on VHS or anywhere else.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:00 PM
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South African, familiar with it and so is everyone i know, no doubt.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:24 PM
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And then there's Red Zinger tea.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:26 PM
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I'm aware of the word "zinger", and I'm the only really important person in the anglophone world, so yes, everyone (who matters) in the anglophone world knows "zinger".
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:45 PM
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Interesting graph. My stay in the US was before 1980.
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Old 08-13-2019, 12:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas View Post
Hostess Zingers. I love the raspberry
If only they didn't ruin them with coconut.
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Old 08-13-2019, 01:04 PM
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I guess the people in my workplace (Smithsonian) did'nt use the word.
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Old 08-13-2019, 02:04 PM
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Another non-US .......hesitancy. It sounded vaguely familiar in two contexts - food and nerve pain.

OK, so it turns out there is a burger with that name. I've been in a Burger King two or three times in my life, and not in the last five years. I guess that's something that filtered into my consciousness through advertising.

Nerve pain - well, I worked on some neurogenic pain stuff the best part of 10 years ago, and I guess I heard it used then.

Beyond that, nothing.

j
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Old 08-13-2019, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Banksiaman View Post
Known but rarely used in Australia, usually used to describe a rehearsed one-liner that doesn't quite hit the mark or falls desperately flat. Not sure if it has quite the same dud-joke meaning in other places.

I recall it being a fairly new and unusual word in these here parts back then.

To add - we've had Red Zinger tea and KFC Zinger meals for ages - 1990s maybe, though I immediately went to the lame joke meaning.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:03 PM
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I'm close to 40 and my recollection is that it was something old people said. I don't think anyone in my age group would use it.

ETA: Always in reference to a barbed joke.

Last edited by sitchensis; 08-13-2019 at 05:05 PM.
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