How to Translate the Tabloids


Photo: Everett Bogue

Earlier this week, yet another crew of authorities on the gossip age congregated for yet another panel discussion on what it all means for humanity. This time, The Atlantic gathered the experts at the NYU Graduate School of Journalism, where they had the usual things to say — the pap-celeb relationship is one of fond symbiosis, publicists are so 1999, etc. It’s all about the love, darlings, blah, blah, blah. Somewhat more interesting, though, was Richard Johnson’s celebrity-euphemism list (calling Li.Lo “drunk” is a no-no, no matter how many times she falls on you), which we’ve expanded upon.

Cheat Sheet for Gossip Euphemisms

  • Drunk: tired and emotional, high-spirited, overly demonstrative

  • Complete cokehead: allergy-ridden

  • Public shagging: Discussing Ugandan Affairs (a phrase born years ago in the pages of Private Eye magazine upon the disappearance of a diplomat and a young lady into a London broom closet)

  • Mistress/whore: gal pal, co-ed, bimbo, sexpot, stunner

  • Mistreated youth: TRAGIC TOT

  • Distress: woes, AGONY, FURY, RAGE, OUTRAGE (if you want to ramp it up)

  • Slight qualms: TERROR, HORROR

  • Embarrassment: SHAME, DISGRACE, HORROR

  • The end: TKO, lights-out, curtains for, splitsville (in the case of a romantic entanglement)

  • Wedding: ‘nups

  • A gathering of more than two: MOBS, onlookers, THUGS, ANGRY CROWDS

  • Sexual deviate: perv, fiend, fruitcake, scum

  • Deviate with anger issues: psycho, crazy, madman, butcher, thug, heavy

  • Your average criminal: perp

  • Your average nut job: weirdo, oddball, madman, twisted

  • (N.B.: “Beast” may be substituted in any of the above circumstances.)

Useful Verbs For:

  • Getting fired: axed, dissed, kicked to curb

  • Making out: romp, canoodle, lovefest

  • Killing someone: hack, slay, butcher

  • Telling on the killer: snitch, rat, SING, spill

  • Getting caught: nailed, NABBED, BUSTED

  • Getting off easy: WALK, skate

  • Being cheated: scammed, hoaxed, duped

Maggie Shnayerson

How to Translate the Tabloids