Words of the Week - June 10

Dictionary lookups from the woods, the beach, and Gotham
maple tree

Helicopter parent


Geotag caught a wave of interest this week after The New York Times published an article about how the social media habits of some surfers are inadvertently betraying the locations of primo surf spots.

“[Instagram’s] geotagging feature can pinpoint the exact location of a photo. It has affected many natural spaces, from once quiet national parks such as Joshua Tree to formerly hidden waterfalls everywhere, which are now overrun with crowds, cars, noise and trash, leading to rules, fences and even closures.”
— Adam Elder, The New York Times, 6 Jun. 2022

We define the verb geotag as “to add location information to (something, such as a digital image)” and the noun as “location information (such as GPS coordinates) added to a digital file or image.” The ability to geotag is a powerful one but it comes with great responsibility, even for gremmies.


This week has seen several spikes in lookups for sedition coinciding with the indictment of four members of the far-right group the Proud Boys for seditious conspiracy.

“Enrique Tarrio, the former chairman of the Proud Boys, and four other members of the far-right group were indicted on Monday for seditious conspiracy for their roles in the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 of last year, some of the most serious criminal charges to be brought in the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation of the assault. The sedition charges came in an amended indictment that was unsealed in Federal District Court in Washington.”
— Alan Feuer, Adam Goldman, and Luke Broadwater, The New York Times, 6 Jun. 2022

We define sedition as “incitement of resistance to or insurrection against lawful authority.” As we’ve noted in the past, many people differentiate between this word and treason, which we define as “the offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family.” Because sedition is limited to organizing and encouraging opposition to government rather than directly participating in its overthrow, many view it as falling one step short of the more serious crime of treason. One who incites or promotes sedition is a seditionist, or, less commonly, a seditionary.

‘Folie à Deux’

The working title of the sequel to the 2019 film “Joker” was confirmed this week when director Todd Phillips posted the cover of a script bearing the title “Joker: Folie à Deux” to social media. This led to a bump in look-ups for the French borrowing, and even a Merriam-Webster shout-out.

“That’s apparently a working title and not the official one, but it seems fair to try and read into it a bit, so let’s do that: Merriam-Webster defines ‘folie à deux’ as ‘the presence of the same or similar delusional ideas in two persons closely associated with one another.’ So… that means Harley Quinn, right?”
— Sam Barsanti, AV Club, 7 Jun. 2022

No joke (cough), that is indeed how we define folie à deux, which literally means “double madness” in French. However, we’re not going to speculate on what other villain may be set to concoct a scheme with the titular character, unless


Our entry for plushy has received high and steady traffic all week. We’re not sure why, but it may have something to do with a heartwarming story of a little boy who was reunited with his stuffed dinosaur thanks to a couple of friends who went the extra mile.

“The two friends were on their way to Ancient Lakes in Eastern Washington when they spotted ‘something green,’ Schmidgall said. The traffic was ‘moving from bumper to bumper,’ and Schmidgall got out of the car to retrieve the plushie.”
— Daisy Zavala Magaña, The Seattle Times, 3 Jun. 2022

Now, we currently define plushy as an adjective meaning “having the texture of or covered with plush.” The green triceratops in the article is also called a plushie, not a plushy. However, both spellings have seen increased use in recent years to refer to soft, stuffed toys, so it’s possible that Dino’s adventure is at least partially responsible for plushy trending. Regardless, it’s always nice to read a story full of warm fuzzies.

Words Worth Knowing: ‘Samara’

“Key,” “whirlybird,” “helicopter,” “whirligig,” “spinning jenny”—these are all words people use for a particular type of tree seed that botanists refer to as a samara, defined as the “dry indehiscent usually one-seeded winged fruit” of trees including ash, sycamore, elm, and notably at this time of year, maple. From late spring to early summer, for example, red, silver, sugar, and other maple samaras ripen before catching the breeze.