Sheeple

sheeple

This blended or portmanteau word seems to be gaining ground fast if online news and websites are any indication.  Obviously it is a mix of sheep and people and describes the masses that are easily led, relatively unthinking and undiscerning. Conformists and obedient.

Let’s put the mistake the army made with the bomb down to terrorism and the sheeple will believe it.

Taylor Swift started wearing lederhosen and, like sheeple, all the teenage girls and boys have gone out to buy a pair.

There is an older term “lemmings” which was in fairly common use.

Whatever the head of the club said, the fans went and did it like a bunch of lemmings.

lemmings

Apart from the fact that most people have a very vague idea of a lemming (it is a rodent, similar to a vole), the characteristic of being a lemming was rushing blindly into destructive behaviour like throwing yourself off a cliff.  So I guess being likened to a sheep is a little more benign.

 

Zip lining

Talk about sanitising the way we describe an activity!

The activity in question is hitching yourself to a pulley that slides down a long cable or wire stretched from tree to tree. Launching yourself from a height, gravity pulls you down and gives you an exciting and often scenic ride over tree-tops and countryside.  The ride can last from 30 seconds to a couple of minutes in general.

zip-lining

We always called this a flying fox and I remember going on them in school and scout camps in New Zealand and I have been on them in a couple of other parts of the world too and as far I can recall they were named this way.

Now I find them dubbed zip lining or zip wires and that they are being marketed worldwide. Zip line sounds like a plastic bag with its own zip like fastener you use for freezing food.  All very practical and hygienic but nothing like the mystery of the flying fox.  Which are, you ask?

flying-fox

A large bat with a wide wingspan that can soar across the skies. Much more appropriate if you ask me. But then bats are pretty ugly and not everyone’s cup of tea so you can see why those in marketing decided this outdoor activity needed a new name.

There is a South African term for the same thing – foefie slide – that sounds fun but it seems it may also be out of fashion nowadays.

 

Infidel

fidel

Fidel Castro has finally exited stage right, after an extraordinarily long stint influencing the destiny of his country, Cuba. I was never the greatest fan, despite the good press he received for developing health and education in the country. My visit there in 2002 confirmed that however good your living standards are (which of course they were not for most people), nothing has the same value without at least the majority of freedoms. His rule definitely became an ego-trip and a cling to power in recent decades. Sad.

I don’t expect that in English speaking countries these days there are many children being named Fidel, though maybe there were one or two during the cold war. And the word fidel does not exist as a noun or adjective.

But we do have infidel. I see that this is labelled as offensive in several dictionaries and refers to an insult traded between Christians and Muslims. Didn’t realise it was still so strong!

And we have fidelity and infidelity which relate to marriage and relationships; a more formal way of saying whether you are faithful or not.

There is one further use of the term which relates to an exact copy of something. Like a copy of a work of art or a document. That leads us in turn to hi-fi which stands for high-fidelity and describes sound systems and the like which reproduce the original music, etc to a very precise degree or high level of quality.

So, not many Fidels in English but there is Fido, a popular name for dogs and name of dog food in some places. I bet you couldn’t buy that in Cuba.

fido2