Words you have had to look up since posting on SDMB

Just curious what words are entering your vocabulary from your participation here. Stuff you wouldn’t encounter in everyday life, maybe. For me…


A meme (pronounced /miːm/)[1] consists of any idea or behavior that can pass from one person to another by learning or imitation.



To grok (pronounced /ˈgrɒk/) is to share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. In Heinlein’s view of quantum theory, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed.


Portmanteau. (It wasn’t in a thread per se, but in a link.)

I bet I screw all of these up.

Seignorage. The revenue a country nets after issuing money… it always seems to pop up in threads about coins, though by definition it could happen from currency as well.

Suzerainty. When a smaller country (or whatever) has only limited autonomy and pays tribute to a larger, protective entity. I think. I’m sure someone with a better grasp of politics would dislike that explanation.

Zugzwang. A situation when a player in a game must make a move, but any move he makes will make his position in the game worse. This seems to pop up a lot in out-of-context situations (when neither game theory or chess is being discussed), and seems to be used with the meaning “any move made will lead to that player’s loss.”

Sorry, I neglected to define “portmanteau.” It’s a new word formed by combining two others, such as “smog” for “smoke plus fog” or “burqini” for "burqa plus bikini.

If we count user names:

Shodan- I had no idea it was a video game villain’s name. (System Shock)

Der Trihs- I recently realized it was “Red Shirt” backwards and a reference to an online comic. I thought it was German.

Vox Imperatoris
(A completely made up user name.)

schadenfreude – satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune

Consequentalist. Since I am one, it’s been a good word to know.

picayune, meaning “trivial” or “of little value” (derived from an obsolete Spanish coin).

Zugzwang, for sure.

I think we’ve all done that. I thought it was Dutch.

I once used the word “abstruse” in a post, then looked at it again and thought “I’ve never seen that word before. What the hell does it mean?” I looked it up and found I’d used it correctly.

Ignominious, meaning marked by shame or disgrace; debasing; humiliating.

pedantic - of or relating to a “pedant,” one who makes a show of knowledge

Not a dictionary word, but I was introduced to the term “fapping,” or fap fap fap, here.


I remember looking that one up, but don’t remember what it means (and don’t care any more)

Zugzwang thirded. The SDMB also educated me on felching.

I’ll second this and also add hyperbole, strawman (in context, of course), and Godwin’s Law

Proving that some words should not be looked up, at least not by the squeamish.