Google’s lawyers don’t like it, but the search engine’s name has become a generonym, a brand name that people use as a generic word for searching. The word Google itself is a neologism, a variation on the huge number, a googol.
Neologisms are newly invented words, or existing words that are combined to create a word with a new meaning. The rise of the Internet has spawned lots of neologisms that have made their way into common usage.
As I was writing an issue of SearchDay, I found myself thinking about all of the new neologisms and acronyms that have become commonplace in discussing search engines. We’ve seen Googlewhacking, Googlebombing, and even Googlewashing. Other Google-related neologisms include its widely discussed algorithm called PageRank (PR), and its monthly index update is called the Google dance.
And the people who care passionately about PR and the Google dance are called search engine optimizers (SEOs), concerned with how high their pages rise on SERPs (search engine result pages).
Then you have words like 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 of these Internet neologisms is maintained by writer Paul McFedries. His Tech Word Spy Web site is a lexicon of technical terms, many of which came from the 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, a web page, ad, or other graphic piece that is an overdesigned, jumbled, soup of colors, fonts, and images. And hit-and-run page, a web page that gets a huge number of hits and then disappears a week later.
Do you suffer from information fatigue syndrome, the weariness and frustration that results from information overload? Or have to put up with a list Nazi, a mailing list subscriber who makes it a point to flame other list members for even the slightest violations of Net, email, or mailing list etiquette?
All of you webmasters will want to know about tag wrestling, 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, a person that spends way too much time either surfing the Web or fussing with their home page.
The Seven Deadly Nyms
SearchDay, August 7, 2002
Virtuous searching takes more than hard work and clean thinking — you must keep constant vigilance against the seven deadly nyms that can play the devil with your search results.
NOTE: Article links often change. In case of a bad link, use the publication’s search facility, which most have, and search for the headline.