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Avoid these 5 passive-aggressive phrases that ‘irritate’ people the most, says speech expert

(CNBC) John Bowe, December 18, 2022

Passive-aggressive behavior isn’t always intentional. As a speech and communications expert, I’ve found that people who have these tendencies often just struggle with being honest about their emotions.

But when you send mixed messages by failing to be straightforward, problems and tensions can go unresolved and people make assumptions about how you feel. They may even lose respect for you.

The most successful communicators get to the point and avoid these phrases that only serve to irritate the listener:

Source: CNBC

New Research Finds Criminal Justice System Jargon Used in Media Reporting and Coverage Biases Public Against Reform

(FWD.US) September 23, 2021

Today, FWD.us released “People First: The Use and Impact of Criminal Justice Labels in Media Coverage”, a new research report that confirms that dehumanizing labels— like “inmate” “offender” and “felon” — are still widely used by leading U.S. newspapers and other media outlets, and the use of these terms biases readers and viewers against incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and convicted people and criminal justice reform.

The new report, which includes research that examined the coverage in eight newspapers and wire services and surveyed 2,800 people across two surveys, found that criminal justice labels such as “inmate” “felon” and “offender” were used in more than 10,000 stories in 2020, and that these labels are not neutral descriptors but are, instead, perpetuating false and dangerous stereotypes, artificially inflating support for mass incarceration, and dampening the impact of much-needed critiques.

Research key findings include:

  • Benenson Strategy Group, in partnership with FWD.us, conducted two national surveys to determine the impact of these labels on public opinion compared to the same questions and stories using “people first” language. In both direct tests of the labels versus “people first” language and in mock news stories, respondents experienced “people first” language as significantly more neutral than the labels commonly used by the criminal justice system.
  • When used in a media context, these words bias readers against incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and convicted people and reduce support for reform. Seventy-five percent of the mock news stories (6/8) tested showed lower support for reform or individuals in the system when criminal justice labels were used.
  • Outlets in the media analysis used harmful terms 21 times more than “people first” language, which only appeared in 4.5% of the stories reviewed.

“Designed to desensitize, labels like “convict,” “felon,” “inmate,” and “offender” further codify stigma, are hard to shake and often follow people beyond courtrooms and prison walls. Our new report backs what incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and convicted people have been saying for years. Not only do these harmful words hurt, they make more freedom less possible. This research confirms these terms are not neutral descriptors but are, instead, biasing the public in favor of mass incarceration and mass criminalization and its outcomes” said Zoë Towns, Vice President of Criminal Justice Reform at FWD.us. “So much of the logic and language that justifies the harsh and racially disparate grip of the American criminal justice system has been accepted and perpetuated by the media, popular culture, policymakers, and the public. While words alone will not dismantle mass incarceration, they can make our work to do so much harder. That’s why we are calling on more news outlets to adapt their style guides and their coverage to reflect ‘people first’ language in criminal justice reporting.”

Source: https://www.fwd.us/news/new-research-finds-criminal-justice-system-jargon-used-in-media-reporting-and-coverage-biases-public-against-reform/

Word of the Day – pecuniary | Dictionary.com

Pecuniary / pi-kyoo-nee-er-ee / adjective


Of or relating to money


Whatever Mr. Penson’s civic convictions, he also has a pecuniary interest in the outcome. —CHARLES V. BAGLI, “OWNER OF GRAND CENTRAL VIES WITH DEVELOPER OVER SKYSCRAPER ON AN ADJACENT BLOCK,” NEW YORK TIMES, SEPTEMBER 23, 2014


Pecuniary, “relating to money,” comes from the Latin adjective pecūniārius, a derivative of pecūnia“property, possessions, wealth, money,” itself a derivative of pecū “flock, herd, farm animals,” livestock being a very important source of wealth in early farming societies. Pecū and its related nouns are derivatives of the Proto-Indo-European noun peku– “sheep,” from the root pek-, pok- “to pluck, fleece, card (wool, flax).” Peku- is the source of Umbrian pequo “cattle” (Umbrian was an Italic language spoken in Umbria, north of Rome), Greek pókos and pékos “sheep’s wool, fleece,” and Lithuanian pekus “cattle.” By regular phonetic change peku- becomes fehu– in Proto-Germanic, becoming Gothic faihu “possessions, property,” German Vieh “cattle, beast, brute,” Old English feoh, fioh, feh “cattle, property (in cattle),” Middle English fe, feo, feh “livestock, herd of livestock, movable property, wealth, money.” Modern English fee “charge, payment, sum paid, “ but also “landed estate, inherited estate,” comes partly from the Middle English and Old English nouns, but fee in the sense “inherited estate, feudal estate” also comes from Old French fieu, fief “estate in land” and Anglo-French fe, fee, fie, from Germanic fehu. Pecuniary entered English in the early 16th century.

via Word of the Day – pecuniary | Dictionary.com.

Word of the Day – sustainability

(DICTIONARY.COM) April 23, 2021

SUSTAINABILITY / suh-stey-nuhbil-i-tee / noun


The quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance


Sustainability is based on a simple and long-recognized factual premise: Everything that humans require for their survival and well-being depends, directly or indirectly, on the natural environment. —NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL, “SUSTAINABILITY AND THE U.S. EPA,” 2011


Sustainability, now most commonly meaning “the quality of not depleting natural resources,” is a transparent compound of the adjective sustainable “able to be supported or maintained,” and the common noun suffix –ity. The oldest usage of sustainability was as a legal term “the capacity of being sustained as true, or upheld as valid by legal argument” (1835). The current environmental sense, specifically mentioning wildlife and ecosystems, arose about 1980.

Source: https://www.dictionary.com/e/word-of-the-day/

Word of the Day – foible | Dictionary.com

Foible, foi-buhl, noun


A minor weakness or failing of character; slight flaw or defect.


Though it has its darker moments, no Bergman venture has ever been so warm, so understanding, so forgiving of human foibles. —KENNETH TURAN, “CRITICS CHOICE: RARE SCREENING OF FIVE-HOUR ‘FANNY AND ALEXANDER’ AT THE WILDER,” LOS ANGELES TIMES, JUNE 20, 2018


Foible, “a minor weakness of character, a slight flaw or defect,” comes from the noun use of the obsolete French adjective foible “the weak point of the blade of a sword” (the strong point of a sword blade is the forte). Foible is first recorded in Old French about 1175; it derives from Vulgar Latin febilis, from Latin flēbilis “lamentable, worthy of tears, causing tears,” a derivative of the verb flēre “to weep, cry, lament.” In French, foible was replaced by faible, another derivative of febilis, and the source of English feeble. Foible, in the sense “the weak point of the blade of a sword,” entered English in the first half of the 17th century; the sense “defect in character” arose in the second half of the 17th century.

Source: https://www.dictionary.com/e/word-of-the-day/foible-2021-03-13/

Word of the Day – zeitgeber | Dictionary.com

Zeitgeber / tsahyt-gey-ber / noun


an environmental cue, as the length of daylight or the degree of temperature, that helps to regulate the cycles of an organism’s biological clock.


Natural light is the best-known, though not the only, zeitgeber that syncs human sleep patterns up with the Earth’s 24-hour day. —JULIE BECK, “THE CAVES OF FORGOTTEN TIME,” THE ATLANTIC, NOVEMBER 9, 2015


Zeitgeber “an environmental cue, such as the length of daylight, that helps regulate the biological clock of an organism,” comes from German Zeitgeber, literally “time giver,” a compound of Zeit “time” (cognate with English tide) and Geber, an agent noun from the verb geben “to give” (cognate with English give). The German term is formed on the analogy of Taktgeber “electronic synchronization device, timer, metronome.” Takt and Zeit are near synonyms except that Takt is more narrowly applied to music and rhythm. Zeitgeber entered English in the late 1950s.

via Word of the Day – zeitgeber | Dictionary.com.

Word of the Day – roister

(DICTIONARY.COM) October 11, 2020

Roister / roi-ster / verb (used without object)


To act in a swaggering, boisterous, or uproarious manner.


Haerlem, Schiedam and Olifant were the ships, and they tied up so that their sailors could roister ashore, and large fights broke out because sailors from the first two ships, which bore honorable names, began to tease those. from the Olifant, Dutch for elephant.—JAMES A. MICHENER, THE COVENANT, 1980


The English verb roister, “to act boisterously; to revel without restraint,” started life as a noun meaning “noisy bully” (now roisterer), from Middle French rustre, ru(i)stre “ruffian, boor, lout,” from the adjective ruste “rude, rough,” from the Latin adjective rusticus “rural, rustic.” Roister entered English in the 16th century.

Source: https://www.dictionary.com/e/word-of-the-day/

Word of the Day: Soniferous


 Soniferous, suhnif-er-uhs, son, adjective


conveying or producing sound


Since World War II biologists have learned much more about the characteristic sounds of many soniferous marine animals.P. VIGOUREUX AND J. B. HERSEY, “SOUND IN THE SEA,” THE GLOBAL COASTAL OCEAN, 1962


The adjective soniferous “conveying or producing sound” is Latinate but not Latin. The first two syllables, soni-, are a combining form of the Latin noun sonus “sound.” The second two syllables, –ferous “bearing, producing,” make a hybrid suffix from the Latin suffix –fer “carrying, bearing” (as in aquifer) and the English suffix –ous “possessing, full of,” which comes via Old French –ous, –eus, –eux from Latin –ōsusSoniferousentered English in the early 18th century.

Word of the Day – mythomane | Dictionary.com


Mythomane / mithuh-meyn / noun


A person with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating.


Lawrence himself was a mythomane and, after the first world war, took particular pains to project an image of himself to the public that was as much a construct as anything worked up by the PR team of a film star or celebrity of today.



The noun and adjective mythomane is a relatively recent word, dating from only the 1950s, and is a synonym for the noun and adjective mythomaniac, which is almost a century older (1857). Mythomaniac originally meant someone passionate about or obsessed with myths, its etymological meaning. By the early 1920s mythomaniac had acquired its current sense “someone with a strong or irresistible propensity for fantasizing, lying, or exaggerating.” The Greek noun mŷthos means “word, discourse, conversation, story, tale, saga, myth”; it does not mean “lie.” The curious thing is that the source word mythomania “lying or exaggerating to an abnormal degree” dates from only 1909.

Source: https://www.dictionary.com/e/word-of-the-day/mythomane-2020-01-14/?param=wotd-email&click=ca77rh?param=wotd-email&click=ca77rh&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Live WOTD Recurring 2020-01-14&utm_term=WOTD

Word of the Day – strepitous


Strepitous / strep-i-tuhs / adjective


Boisterous; noisy


The New Orleans-based songwriter … leans into more explicitly gospel territory here, letting his strepitous guitar take a backseat to an upright-piano melody and choral harmonies.RACHEL HORN, “SONGS WE LOVE: BENJAMIN BOOKER, ‘WITNESS (FEAT. MAVIS STAPLES)’,” NPR, MARCH 9, 2017


Strepitous comes from Latin strepitus“noise,” from strepere “to make noise, rattle, clatter.” Strepere also yields (through the verb obstrepere “to make noise at”) the Latin adjective obstreperus “clamorous.” Obstreperusis the source of a more familiar synonym for strepitous: obstreperous. Strepitous entered English in the late 1600s.

Source: Dictionary.com / Strepitous