To Google, and Other Neologisms

Google’s lawyers don’t like it, but the search engine’s name has become a “generonym,” a brand name people use as a generic word. The word “Google” itself is a neologism, a variation on the huge number called a googol.

Neologisms are newly invented words or existing words combined to create a new meaning. The rise of the Internet spawned lots of neologisms that have made their way into common usage.

As I was writing an article recently for SearchDay, I found myself thinking about all the new neologisms and abbreviations that have become commonplace when discussing search engines. We’ve seen “Googlewhacking,” “Googlebombing,” and even “Googlewashing.” Other Google-related neologisms include its widely discussed algorithm, “PageRank” (PR), and its monthly index update, the “Google dance.” (Now, even Google takes the term literally — check out these photos from last week’s Google dance.)

People who are passionate about PR and the Google dance are “SEOs,” or search engine optimizers. Their concern is how high their pages rise on “SERPs,” or search engine result pages.

Then, you have words such as “spamdexing” (“spam” + “index”), which refers to people who create garbage or deceptive pages. “Searchjacking” (“search” + “hijack”) is a variation, referring to people who attempt to fool search engines by using popular but unrelated keywords in their meta tags.

An outstanding glossary that features many Internet neologisms is maintained by writer Paul McFedries. His Tech Word Spy Web site is a lexicon of technical terms, many of which come from books he’s written. If you’re a fan of language, it’s a fun and fascinating site to engage in what McFedries calls “lexpionage.”

Some of my favorites include “cornea gumbo,” defined as “a Web page, ad, or other graphic element that’s an overdesigned, jumbled, soup of colors, fonts, and images.” Another is “hit-and-run page,” a page that “gets a huge number of hits, then disappears a week later.”

Do you suffer from “information fatigue syndrome,” the weariness and frustration that results from information overload? Or must you put up with a “list Nazi,” a mailing list subscriber who flames other list members for minor violations of Net, email, or mailing list etiquette?

All you Webmasters will want to know about “tag wrestling.” It’s a “popular new sport, usually accompanied by grunting, slaps to the head, and cries of ‘I’m sure I put in that end tag’ and ‘They must have changed the syntax of HTML on me.'”

Why do I find these Internet neologisms so interesting? Guess it’s because I’m a bona-fide “arachnerd,” someone who “spends way too much time either surfing the Web or fussing with their home page.”

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