Recessionspeak: Your guide to our new vocabulary
While staycation has received the most attention, there are many words and phrases that the media, present company included, have overused in the past year. With that, WalletPop presents, your guide to recession buzzwords and phrases.
Staycation -- Perhaps the best-known term, tracing its roots back to 2003, but gained popularity and notoriety in 2008. Despite earning a place on the banned word list earlier this year it recently found a home in the newest version of the Merriam Webster College Dictionary alongside "Acai" and "sock puppet."
Transumer -- Rather than describing Optimus Prime on a shopping trip for Rocky Horror-style clothes, Transumer is used to describe consumers who are in a constant state of transition. Originally used in 2003 by marketing agency Fitch to describe shoppers who made purchases at airports, train stations and hotels, recently it found use as a descriptor of individuals who rent everything, from handbags and homes to cars and movies. If any recessionary term deserves to be banished it's this one, if only for the mental image it calls to mind.
Waycation -- Coined by WalletPop's own Sarah Gilbert in an effort to feed our appetite for buzzwords, a waycation is an out-of-the-way vacation such as a trip to the state park. While a waycation sounds like an apt description of the National Lampoon's Vacation where they are waylaid everywhere they go, it is best categorized by a cheap camp-out; S'mores optional. It stands in stark contrast to "glamping" which is camping but with fancier amenities than the best hotel most of us have ever set foot inside.
Naycation -- Lacking both originality and usefulness, naycation is a term used to describe not taking a vacation. Even though it's easy to come up with plenty of reasons to call it a naycation, nine of them in fact, not taking a vacation, as defined by the travel industry, is normal for many Americans.
Funemployment -- A word which describes unemployment when used as a time for fun, or as Gawker describes it; "this is in contrast to "Unemployment," which is when you're unemployed and forced into prostitution in order to buy flour." Though it was featured as a word of the day by the Urban Dictionary in 2006, Funemployment owes its current place in our lexicon to anLA Times article from June 2009. You may also be familiar with its cousin the funlough, which can be used to describe all the fun one is having while taking a forced furlough from work.
Togethering -- No matter what your new friend tells you about togethering, it has absolutely nothing to do with the "key parties" or other swinging behavior. The Travel industry has taken to use the term to describe vacationing together which in theory allows friends to share the costs of lodging and other expenses for a cheaper vacation. Like many other words in this glossary, the use of togethering can be linked back to 2003, where it was used to convey the need for families to spend more time together.
Recessionista -- Someone, usually a woman, who remains stylish while living a frugal life style. This is one of the few terms that was actually born during this recession, but some people would argue that it is merely a case of calling it as you see it.
Wealth Porn -- No, it's not a new adult publication aimed at the million and up club. Wealth porn is how the Wall Street Journal described the images of Ponzi schemer Marc Dreier's "lavish" lifestyle. Examples can include beachfront property, an Aston Martin and detailed photos of a yacht bedroom. Proving that bigger isn't always better, if the prosecutor gets his way, this wealth porn will lead to a big prison sentence! Don't drop your soap, Marco!
While a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, a recession by any other name still stinks. That hasn't put the brakes on the creation of new nicknames for the current recession, including these gems:
Depression 2.0 -- Borrowing from the popular term Web 2.0, which describes a rebirth of exciting services, Depression 2.0 is used to refer to the impeding repeat of the Great Depression. Thankfully things haven't gotten that bad. It would be a shame to have Depression 2.0 go down in history as the name of this time period when anyone with half a brain knows that Recess.ion or Dpresn would be more appropriate.
Great Recession -- This is yet another name given to our current troubles to bring back images of soup lines and tent cities, as well as invoke fear in the minds of the public. Just like Y2K, calling this crisis the Great Recession creates more fear than it needs to.
Most often a play on euphemisms and sayings from years past, these phrases have become increasingly popular over the last 12 months, worming their way into both conversations and news articles on a regular basis.
You can be "doing the unemploy," or simply the classic, "between jobs." Some people hope to hide their downsized ways by claiming to be starting their own business, or that they're now "consulting." Of course many people are in fact doing just that. But let's face it; "consulting" for some people involves staring dolefully into their laptops at the local coffee shop while nursing a bottomless cup of coffee.
Need more euphemism? Real estate has bred a few doozies, including the now ubiquitous "upside down," and the ever-hopeful, "Flat is the new up." Sigh. At least the very annoying "jingle mail" (when you mail the keys to the house you're upside down in back to the bank) never really caught on, given the number of foreclosures out there.
There you have it; all the words, nicknames and phrases you need to make your friends and coworkers think you're an expert on our current financial situation. If you want to really pull out the stops you can blame the whole mess on Bernanke Panky or claim that frugal is the new black and storm off with a know-it-all attitude.
Think we missed an important recession buzzword? Set us straight in the comments!