Here is a list of interesting words that I picked up here and there.

echo chamber

Definition from Wikipedia:

In news media an echo chamber is a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by transmission and repetition inside an “enclosed” system, where different or competing views are censored, disallowed, or otherwise underrepresented. The term is by analogy with an acoustic echo chamber, where sounds reverberate.

Added in June 2016, source: Hacker News


Definition from Wikipedia:

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by a grassroots participant(s). It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots.” The implication behind the use of the term is that there are no “true” or “natural” grassroots, but rather “fake” or “artificial” support, although some astroturfing operatives defend the practice (see Justification below).

Added in June 2016, source: Hacker News


Definition from Merriam-Webster:

Lacking courage and resolution, marked by contemptible timidity

Added in Sep 2016, source: Hacker News


Definition from Wikipedia:

A contrarian is a person who takes up a contrary position, especially a position that is opposed to that of the majority, regardless of how unpopular it may be.

Added in Nov 2016, source: Trump’s Climate Contrarian: Myron Ebell Takes On the E.P.A. (The New York Times)

raison d’être

Definition from Merriam-Webster:

reason or justification for existence. Example: Art is his raison d’être.

Added in Dec 2016, source: Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making


Explanation from TED-Ed by Noah Tavlin: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/what-orwellian-really-means-noah-tavlin

Added in June 2017, source: Hacker News


Explanation from Wikipedia:

Doublethink is the act of simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts.[1] Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Also related is cognitive dissonance, in which contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one’s mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance—thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction.

Added in September 2017, source: Hacker News


Explanation from Wikipedia:

portmanteau (/pɔːrtˈmænt/ (About this soundlisten)/ˌpɔːrtmænˈt/) or portmanteau word (from French porte-manteau, coat hanger) is a linguistic blend of words,[1] in which parts of multiple words or their phonemes (sounds) are combined into a new word,[1][2][3] as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog,[2][4] or motel, from motor and hotel.[5] In linguistics, a portmanteau is a single morph that is analyzed as representing two (or more) underlying morphemes.

Added in May 2020, source: an anonymous comment on this blog

fait accompli

Definition from Merriam-Webster:

a thing accomplished and presumably irreversible

Added in Oct 2021, source: A Planned Catastrophe: Yale-NUS to Close in 2025 – The Octant

During the meeting, Prof. Tan Tai Yong said the decision was made by NUS, and the news came to him as a fait accompli.


Explanation from Nerdy Bookahs

In German, we use the term “Wuselfaktor“ for simulation or city-builder games that have lots of tiny people, cars, animals etc. running or walking around on the map.

Added in Oct 2021, source: Lessons Learned Shipping Mini Motorways: A bumpy road to success – Tana Tanoi – YouTube

panem et circenses

Definition from Merriam-Webster:

Latin quotation from Juvenal. Bread and circuses: sustenance and entertainment provided by government to appease public discontent.

Added in Oct 2021, source: Hacker News