Contemporary Words, Phrases, and Idioms

Reinventing the Wheel is a contemporary idiom
Reinventing the Wheel is a contemporary idiom

Buzz Words and Contemporary Jargon

Every decade American society develops new language trends. Old words that have never been used much, suddenly become the new buzz word, or their meaning becomes something different. New sayings, expressions, and idioms are created and suddenly everyone is saying them AD NAUSEUM. Some mean different things to different people. Here is a list of aged words that have become the new jargon or buzz words and for the most part, my definitions. This is only a snippet. There are hundreds more, but these are the ones I notice most.

Boundaries - It's about time we learned boundaries in relationships. In other words, setting limits.

Challenged - Disabled.

Choices- "Son, you are making bad choices." "You need to make a better choice, young lady." Good word, but somehow, it doesn't pack the wallop I would hope it would. But it does help people see that they are indeed choosing to think, be, or do a certain thing, whether it is healthy or unhealthy.

Consequences - Good word, but over used as well. Telling a two year old there are consequences makes you wonder if he knows what that big word means. But it's a word that older kids and all we adults need to always be mindful of.

Diversity - The acceptance of unique people groups (ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious, sexual orientation, etc)

Fallacious - An unsound argument.

Iconic - This refers to famous people who have been particularly revered for their work, and/or become a household word.

Inappropriate - This word is used too loosely. President Clinton's indiscretion was indeed inappropriate, but a whole lot more. It is inappropriate when my grandson burps or passes gas in church.

Post Modern - Postmodern is a word used to describe major changes in the underlying ways people think—especially the way people view truth and reality (Steve Cornell)

Pragmatic - Realistic and practical

Pundit - A person who offers to mass media his or her opinion or commentary on a topic they are knowledgeable on. Often it is political analysis. Rush Limbaugh is a pundit. The sad thing is that anyone can be a pundit whether qualified or not.

Tolerance/intolerance - These really stick in my craw. It is "politically correct" to be tolerant. If you don't agree with someone about something, or choose not to live the way they live, you are intolerant. Gregory Koukl went to a Christian high school and wrote these two sentences on the board. The lesson was, "What is true tolerance and intolerance":

  1. "All views have equal merit and no one should be considered better than another."
  2. "Jesus is the Messiah and Judaism is wrong for rejecting that."

You can read the article yourselves to find out the result. I will just leave this with hopes you would give me some feedback on your thoughts.

Unpack - This no longer means what you do when you get to the hotel. It means to break down a thought, concept, belief, or issue and dig deeper into the meaning.

Worldview - Some people see this statement differently or in a more expanded way. But since this is my hub, I will give my understanding of the word. Here goes: A worldview is how we see the world in it's entirety through a certain lens. Entirety meaning not just the physical world, but more so ideology, philosophy, and religious/spiritual beliefs.

Dysfuncional Family/Poor family dynamics
Dysfuncional Family/Poor family dynamics

Idioms and Expressions In Recent Decades

Begs the question - this term is used to indicate someone has made a conclusion based on a premise that lacks support.

Buzz words - New, fashionable, or trendy words or phrases used in today's American culture that catch people's attention.

Can't wrap my head around - Can't fully comprehend something.

Come to Jesus meeting - A confrontation with an ultimatum.

Drama Queen - A female who lives from crisis to crisis and seems to derive great pleasure in drawing attention to herself by behaving emotionally and dramatically. This behavior is an overreaction to the situation at hand.

Dog and pony show - A big fanfare about something, which in the end, doesn't prove, solve, or explain the real issue.

Dysfunctional family - Families that function and behave toward one another in unhealthy or negative ways.

Family dynamics - The way families interact with each other

Holding one's feet to the fire - making sure something gets done, even if you have to be forceful.

Hot button issue - A current political or social issue that stirs up a lot of controversy.

It's not rocket science - It's not too hard to figure out

No brainer - Something that is simple to understand. Something that doesn't require much thinking.

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer - One who is not too bright

Paradigm shift - A change of one way of thinking to another.

Preaching to the choir - trying to convince a person or group about something they are already in agreement with.

Politically incorrect - I use this one, but I dislike it because of what it means. If someone is Politically incorrect, they are not going with flow of popular belief. It is very offensive to be politically incorrect.

Politically correct- I use this one as well, and dislike it as well. To be politically correct means you agree with the common flow of popular belief. People do and say things they don't really want to or believe in just to be politically correct. So that everyone will like and accept them.

Push the envelope - To go beyond the traditional limits or boundaries

Put a spin on something - to make something look more positive than it is. Usually happens in political matters. (see Spin Doctor)

Reinventing the wheel - Trying to make something that has already been developed to be new or different.

Religious intolerance - When someone chooses a religion and believes it is the only way. All religions think that way. It doesn't mean they are religiously intolerant

Right sized - Being humble and having an accurate estimation of one's self. Without conceit or pride.

Shakers and movers - Innovative, energetic people who are motivated to make change in the business world or other kinds of endeavours.

Spin Doctor - A designated press agent who attempts to put a bad political move or issue in a more positive light.

Surfing the net or web - The same thing as flipping through TV channels with the remote. It means to peruse or skim through websites on the internet looking for information.

Tea Party - Protests by the conservative/libertarian movement (also called Tea Party). They endorse reduced government spending and lower taxation among many other things.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it - Standing by what you have said or believe.

Think outside the box - This means "lets think about this issue outside preconceived, traditional notions. Let's expand our understanding of a thing."

Books and Resources on American Idioms and Phrases

American Idioms and Some Phrases Just for Fun (ESL Series)
American Idioms and Some Phrases Just for Fun (ESL Series)

ESL students taking intermediate-level courses will find this book a helpful supplement to their classroom textbook.

Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook
Webster's New World American Idioms Handbook

Much more than just a listing of terms and expressions, this practical, user-friendly resource provides clear explanations of each idiom, extensive notes on grammar and usage, and a wealth of examples so that you’ll know when, where, why, and how to use idioms effectively. The idioms are organized by common themes and concepts so that they are easy to find, and an extensive index offers fast access to exactly what you need when you’re at a loss for words.


Think Outside the Box

Christian Jargon and Expressions

Altar Call - This is not a new term, however, it has become a hot issue as of late. It is a method whereby the preacher invites people to come to the altar if they want to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. Some clergy are critical of this method seeing it as being outdated.

Brokenness -This is a very "appropriate" way to describe the condition of fallen man.

Conversation - As Christendom deteriorates, some who have departed from the mainline Christian faith are trying to turn the gospel into "let's have a conversation." In my estimation, it's a nice sounding term and a cover letter for "Let's re-evaluate Christianity and so we can tweak it. It needs to be more open minded and less offensive."

Culturally relevant - Preaching and teaching presented in context to the scriptures, and yet, applicable in our modern culture. Again, it is unfortunate that some would take this to mean lets act like the culture so we will draw in new people that might not otherwise come.

Evangelicals - This is my definition, not the world's. Born again, Bible believing Christians who believe in salvation through faith by His grace and who believe in the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Hate the sin, love the sinner - The concept that Christians should love all unsaved people, but hate their sin. It sounds good, but the premise is that they (the unsaved) are the only sinners in the picture. We are all sinners, thus we should see and love everyone that way. And likewise, we should despise all sin by all (Christian's included) people.

Judgmental- Judge not lest you be judged is the most quoted scripture by non-believers. If people do something really horrible, they accuse you of being judgmental when you express concern or rebuke them for hurting others. On the other end, being judgmental has been a scourge from the beginning of time. In context to the opening passage surrounding it, it means don't condemn people. There is another kind of judging that is simply evaluating or discerning that something is not right, usually in reference to immorality. We can discern or evaluate that something bad is happening and it's hurting others. There is nothing wrong biblically of evaluating immorality and going to the offender and tell them that what they are doing is wrong (see Matthew 18).

Organized religion: This is meant sometimes in a derogatory way. People who say they don't like organized religion also say church never worked for them. They object to going to church and living a life of obedience to God. They want a "do it my way religion." Perhaps, too, they are uncomfortable with fellowshiping with sincere Christians.

Seeker friendly/sensitive - Seeker friendly churches present services, teaching, preaching, and activities that might attract people who are looking for God in an unoffensive way. Sadly, many times such churches water down the Gospel and tickle itching ears. Gimmicks are often used as well. Seekers need the uncompromising word of God and the good news of Jesus Christ, not Starbucks in the narthex and touchy feeley messages that lack substance and truth.

Them (or those) born-agains - A derogatory term meaning Christians

This is a massive altar call at the 2010 Seattle Harvest Crusade with Greg Laurie. My son is somewhere in that sea of people. Why would people criticize a call to accept Christ?
This is a massive altar call at the 2010 Seattle Harvest Crusade with Greg Laurie. My son is somewhere in that sea of people. Why would people criticize a call to accept Christ? | Source


Euphemism - The substitution of an inoffensive term (such as "passed away") for one considered offensively explicit ("died").

Figure of Speech - A Figure of Speech is where a word or words are used to create an effect, often where they do not have their original or literal meaning.

Idiom - A set expression of two or more words that means something other than the literal meanings of its individual words.

Jargon - Speech or writing having unusual or pretentious vocabulary, convoluted phrasing, and vague meaning

Idioms Old and New

Zip your lips
Zip your lips
Wolf in sheeps clothing
Wolf in sheeps clothing
Poop hits the fan
Poop hits the fan
Blowing off steam
Blowing off steam
Jumping down my throat
Jumping down my throat
I'm all ears
I'm all ears

Good & Bad

Words that mean good:






Cool Beans




Words that mean bad:





Electronic Abbreviations

AFAIK - As far as I know

BTW - By the way

IDK - I don't know

FYI - For yor information

K - Okay

LMAO - Laughing my ass off

LOL - Lots of love or laugh out loud

RTFM - Read the freaken manual

TTYL - Talk to you later

Technological Jargon

See the Pro's and Con's of Communication Technology for terminology of the electronic world. The first section will certainly remind you of how the words of old have become new and different terms relating to technology.

Words and Phrases with an Attitude

As if - An example would be "as if you think I'd hang out with (or like) you."

How's that working for you? - This could be a legitimate question or it can be a demeaning statement to say that what one is doing is stupid.

What, are you new? - Another inference that the hearer is stupid.

Whatever - Usually two people are butting heads. One will say "whatever" to dismiss the other and let them know they are too much like pond scum to discuss it with.

What part of "no" don't you understand? - a sarcastic way of telling someone to listen and respect what someone's position is on something.

Ya think? - Usually this is said tongue in cheek and in fun. I say it to myself to say "no kidding." But it can be used rudely to infer someone is stupid.

Invitiation to Comment

I deliberately didn't get into politics too much. Mostly because I don't follow them much and don't understand all the terms, but I did mention a few. These lists are obviously not exhaustive. Just ones that catch my thoughts.

I would love to hear your additions and feedback, negative or positive, on my definitions. Peace!

© 2011 Lori Colbo

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Comments 7 comments

Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

This is such an interesting Hub! Some of these words I use, many I never will. The obsession with texting and chatting has certainly changed the way people speak and write messages. I choose to verbalize, elucidate and use sentences. Thanks for a great read.

lifegate profile image

lifegate 5 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA


It looks like you have a good start to your own dictionary. Interesting hub. Thanks for sharing!

CrazyGata profile image

CrazyGata 5 years ago from Puerto Rico

I clicked here for the wrong reasons... Awesome !!!!!

justateacher profile image

justateacher 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

An acronym my mother-in-law shared with me and now I happen to use quite a bit...LMDO - laughing my dentures out!

lambservant profile image

lambservant 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Justteacher that is hilarious. CrazyGata, Don't know what your reasons were but I'm glad you made it and enjoyed it.

lambservant profile image

lambservant 4 years ago from Pacific Northwest Author

Glad you enjoyed it starting a biz. Thanks for stopping by.

gerimcclym profile image

gerimcclym 11 months ago from Colorado

I love words so found this to be highly interesting, and learned the meanings of many phrases and acronyms I did not know previously. This would also make for great teaching material for adult English language learners, and I'm sure the teacher would learn a lot too. The video titled "Think Outside the Box" was hilarious, but I won't laugh too hard because in different situations, I am sure I am that man or woman on the elevator!

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