Glancing at one’s cell phone while conversing with another person might be thought of as cellpeeking, a good, serviceable suggestion for our most recent neologism contest. Net-a-tête has a bit more je ne sais quoi, though, and is our winning entry on this topic.

I like glip, too—“Not one glip until I’m done talking with you”—but it’s already the name of an app and even appears in the Urban Dictionary of slang. Glipping doesn’t necessarily lead to inveterate vertebral glipitis, a suggestion for the stiff neck that results from continually looking at one’s cell screen. Techneck and iNeck also describe that condition effectively but are already in use. Neckrophonia isn’t. Nor is carpalneck: my choice in this category.

The apprehension felt when one’s cell battery is running low with no power source in sight could be thought of as terminal anxiety, the winning suggestion for this predicament. Alleviating that anxiety, one reader proposed, are terminally wired crowds that congregate around outlets in airports. Depending on how you feel about that crowd, they might be considered powertwerps. Juiceville—not to be confused with the Juice Ville Café in Pembroke Pines, Florida—is our winning entry for the pop-up community of airport cell chargers.


Calling someone “all thumbs” used to be a putdown. That person was a klutz. Today this expression could be considered praise for an unusually deft texter.

Many an old saw could stand sharpening. If an apple isn’t organic, for example, can we still feel confident that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Do people with high blood pressure still want to be “worth their salt”?

When wives were more likely to wear dresses, “Who wears the pants in that family?” was a pointed way to ask who was in charge. With the rise of gender equality, same-sex marriages, and unisex garb, the most common response to that question would be “both,” literally and figuratively. Similarly, as fathers who cook don aprons, a reference to grown children’s being “tied to apron strings” is dated.

Changing technology has rendered an entire class of references obsolete. What does “telegraph your punch” refer to? Or “the penny dropped”? For those people who have never inserted a coin into a pay phone, the provenance of “drop a dime” and “on your nickel” may be puzzling. (Even if they had put a coin in a pay phone’s slot, it most likely would have been a quarter, or two.)

For our next contest, identify a dated saying or expression and suggest an updated version. Authors of the three best submissions will receive a Scholar tote bag.

Submit your contenders here.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Ralph Keyes is the author, most recently, of The Hidden History of Coined Words, which has just been published.


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