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9 Funny Words You Need to Know in the 21st Century

Learn how to talk your way into, or out of, any situation the 21st century has to offer. We promise: You'll never "phrasefreeze" again.

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel


(v.) ‘ee-kwayl To feel dread upon receiving an e-mail from a hostile or irksome source, and to resist opening it for fear it might contain distressing or irritating news, or increase your workload. For example: When a message from his boss landed in his inbox, Rowan e-quailed and scrolled down the screen so he wouldn’t have to even look at it.

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel


(n.) ‘koo-pul Inseparable couple so satisfied by each other’s company that they rarely socialize with others and seldom leave home. For example: “Don’t invite Pauline and Kent on the rafting trip,” Sarah said sadly. “They’re such a coople now, there’s no way they’ll come, even if they say they will.”

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel

Droidian Slip

(n. phrase) ‘droy-dee-an slip The contemporary predicament of confusing which electronic device does what; leading you to, for example, answer the AC remote instead of the cell phone, or to try to turn off the TV with the garage-door clicker. For example: Marina pulled her finger across the image to enlarge it, got mad when it stayed small, then realized she’d made a droidian slip—she was reading a regular magazine, not a tablet.

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel


(n.) tel-‘leth-er-jee Highly contagious feeling of lassitude and crankiness resulting from (for instance) watching too much Antiques Road Show, C-SPAN, or similar. For example: On a snowy Sunday in February, Cliff and Brent meant to go out for brunch and maybe check out the flea markets. Instead they succumbed to telethargy for hours, watching terrible television shows until they got headaches.

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel


(n.) ‘kan-sul-ee-‘lay-shun The joy felt by someone who frees up his schedule by canceling an appointment or reneging on a social plan. For example:

Davina knew she ought to feel guilty for bailing on Mariel’s dinner at the last minute, but a delicious cancellelation surged through her as Clive brought out the Scrabble board.

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel

GP Ass

(n.) djee-pee-‘ass One who ignores common sense and blindly follows the instructions of the GPS, putting himself and passengers at risk of hurtling down mountainsides, driving into ditches, and so on. For example: “Look through the windshield, not at the Garmin!” Melanie shrieked as Dustin steered the rental car toward a drainage ditch. “You’re such a GP ass! Can’t you see this isn’t a road?”

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel


(v.) ‘rek-ig-‘nor To pretend not to see someone you know when it might be awkward to say hello. For example: Bruce saw Carolyn jogging by the river and recognored her, figuring she wouldn’t appreciate being stopped mid-run.

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel


(v.) ‘frayz-freez To forget what you meant to say, or to find yourself unable to make a retort even though it’s on the tip of your tongue. Also (adj.) Phrasefrozen. For example: After commandeering the attention of the table for eight minutes with an endless shaggy-dog joke, Oliver phrasefroze, unable to remember the punchline.

Courtesy Elizabeth Zechel


(n.) ‘meel-bray-kur One who drains cheer from a group meal by not partaking of the food, or (if at a restaurant) by ordering a tiny appetizer and seceding from the group bill. For example: Why a woman who consumed nothing but kale and Pellegrino would want to belong to a gourmet club was a mystery to Carmen. She would never have invited Dana to join hers if she’d known she was a mealbreaker.

Liesl Schillinger and Elizabeth Zechel

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest