Funemployment: The Latest Recession Dictionary Entry

mini-Madoff: noun A scammer who perpetuates a pyramid scheme similar to but smaller than that allegedly run by Bernard L. Madoff, a once-respected Wall Street player who is accused of bilking investors out of tens of billions of dollars.

Bernard L. Madoff

As the economy unravels, more and more alleged pyramid schemes -- through which scammers pay early investors with cash from new investors -- are coming to light. The alleged cases of Robert Allen Stanford in Texas and Arthur G. Nadel in Florida have, after Madoff, become among the most notable.

recessionista: noun One who remains stylish during times of economic hardship; a woman who updates her wardrobe in a frugal manner. -- courtesy Merriam-Webster

Recessionista is what linguists call a portmanteau -- a word formed from parts of two or more separate words. In this case, recessionista is a play on the words "fashionista" and, of course, recession.

The term has become ubiquitous in news media reports and blogs, particularly those focusing on fashion on a budget.

The recessionista "is at the mall finding designer threads ... at discount prices," wrote blogger Derek Blasberg. "That's because recessionistas aren't letting a little thing like falling stock prices and rising gas bills get in the way of their wardrobe."

**ADDITION rif Abbreviation for reduction in force. Often used in reference to government jobs and, specifically, public school teacher positions. -- word suggested by reader Gayle Howell, Covington, Ga.

A slang, verb form of RIF include "riffed" and "riffing," according to Webster's New World College Dictionary. While these are not new terms, they've been used with increasing frequency during the recession as public school districts and other government bodies join cash-strapped corporation in announcing layoffs.

shovel ready: noun A construction project that can begin immediately after it receives funding.

The term "shovel ready" blasted into the public vernacular as proponents of the Obama administration's economic stimulus plan touted the public works projects that could begin -- and create jobs -- immediately if they received funding through the package. Obama called the plan, which received Congressional approval in February, "the largest new investment in national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s."

The term now is also being used colloquially by some to describe any project that is on the verge of beginning.

Staying Put Among Zombies

staycation: noun A holiday spent at home, especially due to straitened financial circumstances. -- courtesy Collins Dictionaries.

As more people are finding their finances strained by job losses, the sinking stock market and withering house prices, they're tightening their belts by skipping pricey vacations. Instead, they're staying at, or close to, home with trips to local attractions like amusement parks.

The trend has spread to college students, with some now contemplating taking "spring break staycations."

zombie bank: noun A bank that has a negative net worth but continues to operate because of depositor's insurance or other governmental intervention. -- courtesy Merriam-Webster.

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