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November 20, 2015  |  This week's Friday words!  |  4039 hit(s)

Another Friday, another pair of words: one new (to me), one with an unexpected etymology.

Today's new word is Graygler (alternative: Greygler), which is a portmanteau of gray(-haired) and Googler. Definition: a Google employee who is "old," definition of old not clearly defined. ("Over 40" is one proposal I've seen, gah.) The term isn't particularly new; Forbes used it (in quotation marks) in 2012. Google explicitly uses this term on its Diversity page, under a picture of someone who is, yup, gray-haired.

I think that I first ran across this term in an article about how, um, old people shouldn't work so hard. It piqued my interest first because I am, of course, in that demographic. I also have an ongoing interest in what people who work someplace call themselves (an endonym? Maybe). I believe this is the first time I've found an example of a subgenre of employees.

On to unexpected etymology. Today's is plain old thing. Probably most people would agree that the primary definition is "an entity of any kind," to quote the OED, with many, many variations:
Try turning that thing on the side of the box.
It's a Southern thing.
She and he have a thing going.
It's just one of those things.
I couldn't see a thing.
... etc.
What's unexpected here is that in the way-back history of English, a thing referred to a meeting, council, or assembly. This sense of thing in English is pretty much gone, but there are cognates in other Germanic languages: in German, a Ding is an assembly; in Swedish, the related term is ting.

The Grammarphobia blog has a great writeup of all this, which is where it came to my attention:

The thing about thing