Thursday, March 4, 2010

"Prehab": Is It a Contender?

Link to March 4 New York Times article, "Why His Face May End Up In Webster's".

Excerpt: Sometimes you hear a word for the first time and think: “Of course.” How better to describe Paris Hilton than as a “celebutante” or the frequent tabloid target Alec Baldwin as “the bloviator”? (Thanks, New York Post!)

[Prehab made its debut on Feb. 23, the handiwork of GlasgowRose, a commenter on Gawker, after a publicist for Charlie Sheen announced that the star of “Two and a Half Men” was entering rehab as a “preventative measure.” The announcement was supposed to deflect rumors that the actor had returned to his hard-partying ways. But instead, Gawker wrote a satirical post defining prehab as a vehicle for celebrity spin. “Get the ‘rehab’ career bump without actually being an addict,” Gawker wrote.

After being picked up by a number of blogs, including and, prehab quickly moved to mainstream news outlets, including The Boston Herald, where one columnist questioned whether prehab was “the new personal leave,” and The Daily News, where it was described as a “celebrity thing.” ]

Will Charlie Sheen earn his place in the dictionary?

Here's how it works at Merriam-Webster -- in much the same way as it did when Retiring Guy worked there from March 1976 to August 1978.

The full explanation is here.

From the tone of today's Times article, you might assume that "celebutante" is a relatively new coinage.

Not so. It made its first appearance in print in 1939.
Sorry, Paris, but you're just one in a long line of celebutantes. Brenda Frazier, featured on the November 14, 1938, cover of LIFE magazine, set the gold standard.

As for "bloviate", it already has a long and colorful history. Retiring Guy thinks Rush Limbaugh's picture should be included with this dictionary entry.
Here's a partial list from Merriam-Webster's new words and phrases for 2009.

Will we see "prehab" on the 2010 list?

Stay tuned, word mavens!

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