Pele, ‘padam padam’ and poppadom; a look into the exponential surge in new words and phrases

Though not in the scale of Pelé, there was recently an online push for the term ‘padam’ to be included in the dictionary.
For representational purposes
For representational purposes

KOCHI: It’s a tad bad news: the Macmillan English dictionary and thesaurus websites have shut down.

Launched in 1982, the Macmillan made the digital foray in 2009 and gained considerable traction over time. However, the founders say they had to take the “difficult decision” as “it is no longer sustainable to keep the websites up to date”.

Well, there has been an exponential surge in new words and phrases emerging by the day. Being up to date can, indeed, be a challenge.

New words and usages are, however, a delight for word lovers, who can be called logophiles or lexophiles. In case of obsessive interest, they may call them logomaniacs.  

This column has often presented global lexicon updates with much logophilia. And some of my fave picks from recent additions to dictionaries include:

Liminal space: “a state or place characterised by being transitional or intermediate in some way; (informal) any location that is unsettling, uncanny, or dreamlike”

Antifragile: “becoming more robust when exposed to stressors, uncertainty, or risk”

Rage farming: “the tactic of intentionally provoking political opponents, typically by posting inflammatory content on social media, in order to elicit angry responses and thus high engagement or widespread exposure”

Hellscape: “a place or time that is hopeless, unbearable, or irredeemable”

Trauma dumping: “unsolicited, one-sided sharing of traumatic or intensely negative experiences or emotions”

Most of the impressive, relevant additions were widely covered in our previous editions. However, probably the ‘all-time greatest’ new word that emerged recently was an addition to Brazil’s Michaelis dictionary – Pelé, as a word for “exceptional, incomparable, unique”.

Thanks to a campaign by the Pelé Foundation to honour the football legend, the dictionary added his name to its pages, defining it as “that or someone who is out of the ordinary, who or who by virtue of their quality, value or superiority cannot be equalled to anything or anyone just like Pelé, the nickname of Edson Arantes do Nascimento…”

The name “Pelé” came about during his childhood. Edson was initially called “Dico” by his family, but it was later changed to “Pelé” when he started playing for a local football team.

The story goes that when he was a young boy, Edson mispronounced the name of his favourite goalkeeper Bilé – who played with his father at Vasco de Sao Lourenco – as “Pelé.” The mispronunciation stuck, and his friends started calling him Pelé.

Interestingly, Pelé was not a big fan of the nickname; his real name ‘Edson’ was inspired by Thomas Edison, and he was proud of it.  

Pelé even got into a scuffle with the schoolmate who came up with the moniker, and got suspended from school for two days!

“I thought Pelé sounded horrible. It was a rubbish name. Edson sounded so much more serious and important,” he once wrote in an article.

“Thanks to that goalie Bilé, and a classmate’s little joke, I became Pele. Now it’s known across the world and I don’t mind it so much.”

Though not in the scale of Pelé, there was recently an online push for the term ‘padam’ to be included in the dictionary.

The reason is Australian bubblegum/disco pop diva Kylie Minogue’s comeback after 2010, with a chartbuster track titled ‘Padam Padam’.

You look like fun to me (padam)
You look a little like somebody I know (padam)
And I can tell you how this ends (padam)
I’ll be in your head all weekend (padam)
Shivers and butterflies (padam)
I get the shivers when I look into your eyes (padam)
And I can tell that you’re all in (padam)
‘Cause I can hear your heart beatin’

So goes the song. The word ‘padam’, however, is originally from French, and it is believed to have been coined by the singer Édith Piaf. She used the word in her song “Padam, padam...”, which was released in 1951. The song was about heartbreak.

Now, the Urban Dictionary says ‘padam padam’ is an onomatopoeia for the sound of a heartbeat. Onomatopoeia is a word or phrase that has its roots in the sound of something. In this case, the repeated syllables “padam” imitate the rhythmic beating of a heart.

Hmm, I prefer the old-school lub-dub for the heartbeat. ‘Padam padam’, I am sorry, reminds me of pappadam and sadya.  

Incidentally, pappadam, too, has made it to global dictionaries.  

The Free Dictionary defines pappadam or pappadum as “a very thin flatbread made with lentil flour, often crisped by deep-frying or grilling”.

The Cambridge and Collins dictionaries, too, have an anglicised version: poppadom or poppadum.
Okay, time for me to go play ‘Padam Padam’ and fry some pappadam. Have a hearty weekend ahead. Signing off with some onomatopoeias:

Buzz: “A low, continuous humming sound, like that of a bee or a mosquito”

Clang: “A loud, metallic ringing sound, like that of two metal objects hitting each other”

Crunch: “A loud, crunching sound, like that of someone eating chips or walking on gravel”

Fizzle: “A short, hissing sound, like that of a soda going flat or a fire burning out”

Gnash: “A harsh, grating sound, like that of teeth grinding together”

Grumble: “A low, rumbling sound, like that of thunder or a stomach growling”

Sizzle: “A high-pitched, hissing sound, like that of bacon frying or oil boiling”

Blorp: “A short, wet, bubbling sound, like that of a bubble popping or a liquid being poured into a glass”

Chirrup: “A short, high-pitched twittering sound, like that of a bird singing or a cricket chirping”

Clatter: “A loud sound, like that of dishes being dropped or a horse’s hooves on a cobblestone street”

Glunk: “A short, guttural sound, like that of someone swallowing or a liquid being poured into a container”

Gloop: “A thick, sticky sound, like that of mud or syrup”

Ker-chunk: “A loud, metallic sound, like that of a car hitting a pothole or a bowling ball hitting a pin”

Ping: “A short, high-pitched ringing sound, like that of a doorbell or a dropped coin”

Plunk: “A short, dull thudding sound, like that of a rock hitting water or a body falling to the ground”

Sproing: “A short, high-pitched springing sound, like that of a rubber band snapping or a toy bouncing”

Whirr: “A high-pitched, continuous buzzing sound, like that of a fan or a helicopter”

Boff: “A loud, comical blow, like that of a cartoon character being hit on the head”

Blarf: “a loud, messy burp or belch”

Blurp: “a short, wet, gurgling sound, like that of a baby swallowing or a fish swimming”

Clang-clank: “a loud, metallic ringing sound, like that of two pots banging together”.

Flump: “a short, soft, falling sound, like that of a feather landing on the ground or a cat jumping off a couch”

Ka-pow: “a loud, explosive sound, like that of a superhero punching someone or a cartoon character getting hit by a mallet”

Oof: “a short, sharp exclamation of pain, like that of someone stubbing their toe or falling down”

Splat-squish: “a loud, wet, splattering sound, like that of a watermelon hitting the ground or a bug being squashed”

Yikes: “a short, sharp exclamation of surprise or fear, like that of someone seeing a ghost or a spider”

Related Stories

No stories found.
The New Indian Express