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The Year In Buzz Words

2 minute read
Sean Gregory

After U.N. inspectors revealed last week that Iraq had failed to disclose some information about its weapons programs, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Iraq was again in “material breach” of U.N. resolutions, bringing the U.S. closer to war. Material breach, hitherto an unfamiliar bit of legalese, today is the preferred euphemism for “liar, liar.” It’s just one of several words and phrases that took on new currency in 2002.

–REGIME CHANGE The polite way of saying we want someone ousted. Bush goes after Saddam: Iraq needs a regime change. Bush axes Paul O’Neill and Lawrence Lindsey: Economic regime change?

–CONNECT THE DOTS Used to be what kids did in their coloring books. Now America’s failure to “connect the dots” with its pre-9/11 intelligence is one of the reasons we’re seeking regime change.

–HOMELAND A term that has long roused passions overseas–among Palestinians fighting for a homeland, for example. But Americans had little use for it until Bush created the Office of Homeland Security and the Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

–BUBBLE Yes, it has burst, as anyone who pays attention to the NASDAQ knows. Now we’re obsessed with bubbles: Are housing prices in one?

–STARTER MARRIAGE A much discussed new book documents the phenomenon: when couples in their 20s and early 30s divorce after five years or less without having kids.

–GOOGLE Finally, an Internet search engine that works as a verb–as in “Before I go out with a new guy, I always Google him.” Somehow “Yahooed him” never worked for us.

–By Sean Gregory

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Write to Sean Gregory at sean.gregory@time.com