Catchphrase Executioner: The Worst Slang Terms of 2011

Scrutinizing culture.
Dec. 23 2011 3:02 PM

Catchphrase Executioner

Bad sex jargon, horrible “occupy” jokes, and other terrible things we said this year.

Stop misusing occupy

It’s that time again. Time to review the year’s crop of stupid and annoying catchphrases. Yes, I’ll single out a few ingenious terms that have earned their place in our vernacular. But my aim here is to point out the ones that make you wince when you hear them and identify the user as a loser.

In honor of the Literary Review’s annual “Bad Sex Writing Prize,” which spotlights embarrassing new ways our writers of “literary fiction” have crafted to make us ashamed of our bodily existence, we’ll begin with “Bad Sex Catchphrases.”

None more loathsome and repellant than junk.


Who exactly first thought this could be a super-cool way of referring to genitalia? Come on, identify yourself. No, it wasn’t that guy who told the TSA agent at the San Diego airport, “Don’t touch my junk,” although he certainly gave the term nationwide exposure. It had been around before, but suddenly it blew up. For a while I thought it might have come from the “Don’t tase me, bro” guyit sounds like his kind of patois. Or maybe it was a hedge-fund guy warning a client about some worthless paper: “Don’t touch my junk (bonds).” Wow, a harmonic convergence between bad sex and the bad economy. But I still kind of like “Don’t tase me, bro” as a catchphrase—has anyone articulated the political philosophy of the Jeffersonian faction of the Founding Fathers more eloquently?

Seriously, though, if you were combing the hundreds of thousands of nouns in the language for a more repulsive, anti-sexual way of describing sex organs—or “nature’s blessings,” as I like to call them (kidding!)—I don’t think you could come up with anything worse.

I’m not saying a description of private parts should necessarily be tender, romantic, and lyrical. And one needn’t get all rom-com and reverential, or all New Agey (remember yoni and lingam?). But junk is pathetic. Why not garbage? How about, “Don’t touch my refuse”? Could the rise of the term be one of the first inarguable indications that overdosing on junk-sex Internet porn has damaged the brains of so many men that they’ve come to think everything sexual is, well, junky.

That may be part of the answer. I think the rest of the answer is that junk is a product of dimwit fratboy culture, the super-suave types who still wear their baseball caps on backward and have bequeathed us with the other Bad Sex Catchphrase perennial: “Bros before hos.”

What about squicky? Kind of new on the scene, but beginning to show up with some frequency as a kind of melding of squeal and icky, usually applied to things of an unappealing sexual nature. The word you use when something is so icky it makes women (mainly) want to squeal. I think it’s got a perky appeal, though, so maybe we should reserve judgment and see if it continues to catch on.

The other Bad Sex catchphrase that often strikes me, in some contexts, as funny is O-face. (I don’t need to explicate it, do I?) The downside is that self-consciousness isn’t necessarily a great thing when it comes to sex, or so I’m told.

But just so we don't count the year a total loss, sex-phrase-wise, there is one new term I encountered on the website The Hairpin that sounds super-intriguing: napgasm. Apparently, it’s a thing. (That’s another of my fave catchphrases, by the way. It’s a thing is a thing.)

And here’s one that is not really sexual, but in some ways don’t you think going viral’s time is up? Clapped-out, as the Brits say. The shadow of the STD will always hang over it.

You know what gives going viral a bad name: occupy “jokes” which alas have gone viral. By that, I mean not the Occupy Wall Street movement itself, but the sudden widespread use of the verb occupy to make squicky quips.

Like this one guy on Facebook (I guess he must be a “friend,” although he’ll probably defriend me now—sorry, bro) who occupies any time not devoted to political musings by posting notes about his every movement around the house: “I’m going to occupy the fridge now and get some beer”; “Time to occupy the La-Z-Boy.” Who’d have thought of occupying occupy this way? That’s how I keep up with trends, friends. (By the way, trending; your time has come: Trending has trended (“trent”?) into a cliché.)

Anyway, enough with the occupy jokes, please. And speaking of jokes, what about all those blog commenters who still think it’s original to indicate that they find something funny by saying they “almost spit the coffee on my keyboard.” Do they think anyone will find this response flattering? You made an idiot laugh, congratulations!



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