More Recession Words Join Everyday Speech

recession dictionary

Questions persist about whether the recession is nearing an end, but there's at least one aspect of the economic slump that's charging full-steam ahead: recession-related slang.

New words and phrases, like "green shoots" and "deTARP" are entering the American vernacular while older ones, like "bailout," have re-asserted themselves in the public consciousness.

Settling on catchwords, experts say, may prove comforting to people as they struggle to come to terms with today's economic straits.

"Maybe when you can wrap everything up into one catchword, you're controlling the situation for yourself," Nancy Friedman, the head of Wordworking, a California company that creates names and taglines for companies and products, recently told "That's what we do with language -- we attempt to define and control and make sense of the world."

But whether new recession buzzwords will endure remains to be seen. While Merriam-Webster's Dictionary added three recession-inspired words to its online dictionary recently, editors there and at rival American Heritage Dictionary agree that it will take years before such words make it into print dictionaries, if they ever do.

For now, has updated its online recession dictionary with five additional recession terms. Do you know of a word that you think should be added to our list? Let us know by clicking here. Your suggestion could be featured in a future story.

The Recession Dictionary

Below, a list of terms inspired by or given new life through this recession:

**ADDITION 201(k): noun A play on the term 401(k), in reference to retirement investment accounts that have seen their value nearly halved by the stock market's precipitous decline. Since it peaked above 14,000 in October 2007, the Dow Jones industrial average has fallen more than 40 percent. -- word suggested by reader Denis Regan of Princeton, N.J.

bailout: noun A rescue from financial distress. -- courtesy Merriam-Webster.

Bank executives testified before Congress last month about how they've spent government bailout funds.

Merriam-Webster named "bailout" its "Word of the Year" last year after it was used to describe the multibillion dollar investments the government made in the nation's ailing banks and automakers. The word, which was also used to describe the government's aid to Chrysler in the late 1970s, received "the highest intensity of lookups on Merriam-Webster Online over the shortest period of time," the company said.

**ADDITION dead mall: noun A shopping mall "debilitated by anemic sales and high vacancy rates," according to the Wall Street Journal.

As the economic slump continues to batter retail sales, many mall stores are closing up shop, leaving shopping centers increasingly empty and in poor financial health. In April, General Growth Properties Inc., the nation's second-largest mall operator, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Diminishing or Shooting Up? Depends on the Word

decremental: adjective The act or process of decreasing or becoming gradually less; the amount lost by gradual diminution or waste. -- courtesy The American Heritage Dictionary.

The opposite of incremental, decremental has been appearing more frequently in reports by analysts reviewing the financial health of various companies, used in such phrases as "decremental margins" and "decremental sales."

It's "an ugly word," Deutsche Bank analyst Peter Reilly told The Wall Street Journal.

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