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Death to 'amazeballs' (and other annoying new terms)

  • Article by: KATY WALDMAN
  • Slate
  • January 6, 2013 - 6:09 PM

Time.com language blogger Katy Steinmetz had a column last month naming some of 2012's worst words and phrases: the ones that popped up everywhere. Her bag of verbal irritants included YOLO, adorkable, mommy porn and zombie apocalypse.

But towering above all these was "amazeballs." Is the idea to convey cake balls? Or perhaps some other type of balls, made of amazing? Do amazeballs really exist?

In September 2012, amazeballs rolled into the Collins Online Dictionary, with the definition "an expression of enthusiastic approval." The Urban Dictionary glosses it thusly: "Basically beyond amazing. Being so awesome that a regular word can't describe you."

It appeared on PerezHilton.com as early as 2009 -- at which point multiple commenters implored the blogger to "stop trying to make amazeballs happen." The word began trending on Twitter that year. The comedy duo Jessica and Hunter posted a YouTube video claiming that they had invented the term.

They're both wrong. The originator of the term appears to be fashion blogger Elizabeth Spiridakis, who's said the word simply came out of shorthand she made up with her magazine friends.

Katy Perry and Kate Walsh, among others, began to appropriate amazeballs for their own ends. A recipe materialized. In a crowning moment for the neologism, Gwyneth Paltrow referred to one character's rendition of the Aretha Franklin hit "Ain't No Way" as "amazeballs" on "Glee."

In November of last year, amazeballs racked up a more dubious honor. It was added to the Dictionary of the Most Annoying Words in the English Language, where it was defined as "an exclamation inviting someone to hit you."

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