Industry Lingo

08/01/2007 |

Understanding comes in many forms ... and words

The first time I overheard the term "ginormous," it was among a group of my teenaged son's friends. I thought it was cute and yet another example of the language barrier between parent and child - but, at the very least, a term that I actually understood.

Now, I learn that the wordsmiths at Merriam-Webster have embraced this adjective, which combines "gigantic" and "enormous," and included it and another 99 "words" in the latest update to their collegiate dictionary. As always, the annual list spotlights the latest lingo in pop culture, technology, and current events; no matter how odd some of the words might seem, the dictionary editors say each has the promise of sticking in the American vocabulary.

Wow. It reminds me of my childhood readings of the books by Dr. Seuss (an acknowledged innovator and brilliant writer) who - I'm convinced - overcame writer's block by making up words to fit his rhymes: "And left! Think of Left! And think about BEFT. Why is it that beft always go to the left?" Clever, yes, but how street smart is that to embrace another Seuss-ism? "Oh, the things you can think up if only you try ..."

For years, I've tried to find a place in this magazine to use the term "fluke du jour." (Now I have.) I just liked it when I first saw it written, and it depicted a week of missteps in my own life. It also seemed to express what many project managers must experience every day on the jobsite; however, it never really fit - that is, until now.

Throughout the many issues we create each year, our editorial staff occasionally tweaks a word here or there: "Sculpturing Public Spaces" is pretty self-explanatory, but it isn't really Webster - or Merriam, for that matter - at its best. It worked in that instance, though, just as I'm sure you - as industry professionals - have fine-tuned or modified some terminology to fit a particular instance. Will you share? Please let me know at (

In any event, each day - in print, online, or in person - we discuss the goings on in the dynamic commercial and institutional buildings market in the most informative and succinct way we can. If a word "fits," we'll use it; however, there are limits. For instance, I don't believe I'll ever be able to describe commercial real estate as "this ginormous industry."

Oops. I guess I just did! 

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