Words to key into your mindset

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The Independent Online
Today I bring you the second half of our round-up of a few new words and meanings for the Nineties.

Human rights abuse: this is the modern euphemism for "murder" or "kill". Example: "The Serbs were guilty of more human rights abuses in Sarajevo last night."

Information highway: a vain attempt to get information to a recipient before it becomes outmoded or inaccurate.

Key into, to: to dial.

Mid-term: kind of blues suffered by governments.

Millennium: a word used (and spelt correctly) only towards the end of each century. It means an urge to stay up late on the last night of the old century and to book hotel rooms in New Zealand so as to be the first people in the next century, as if anyone would want to. The curious thing is that although everyone knows logically that the present century ends in AD 2000 and starts on 1 Jan 2001, we are all going to celebrate it a year earlier - another victory for instinct over reason.

Millennium Fund: something which the present government very much hopes to have privatised by about AD 2006.

Mindset: a trendy word for one's attitudes or prejudices. It suggests that we are all programmed to think the way we do, and that we carry our opinions and prejudices around like the headset of a personal stereo.

Model: young female novelist suffering from anorexia nervosa.

Modern: ancient.

Modernist: old-fashioned.

Orientated: a new ugly word which has replaced "oriented". This is all to do with the process whereby a longer version of a word is thought to be more impressive, so that we now get "commentate" instead of "comment", "certificated" instead of "certified", etc.

Post-Modernist: the word that replaced "eclectic" in the Nineties.

Professional: an athlete or sportsman who is paid more than an amateur.

Racism: it is more or less all right to suggest that one race is better than another at doing something, but to suggest that any race is less capable than another is said to be racist.

Refute: a word which means "to disprove by rational argument" and which has not been used correctly with that meaning for about 10 years. This is the fault of politicians who come on TV and say, "I refute that suggestion entirely", when they haven't refuted it all, merely rebutted it.

Reprisals: name given to a Nato bombing raid which has the effect of driving the Serbs on to more excesses.

Road rage: a frantic desire that often seizes Tory ministers to build more and more roads so as to ensure more and more traffic jams and pollution, and to withdraw funds from public transport. They turn red-faced and froth with emotion if thwarted, and start babbling that it is everyone's sacred right to drive in their own car to the place of their choice.

Scenario: in films, the way things are worked out in advance. In politics, the way things are left to chance.

Sleaze: dishonest behaviour by the Tory government, eg accepting upwards of pounds 80,000 for party funds and not giving the donor a knighthood.

Spill: a new word in weather forecasts. Until about 1990, clouds merely moved across Britain, but in the past five years they have started spilling over, usually across from the west, and even on occasion scudding.

State of the art: posh phrase applied to something that is not yet entirely superseded by progress and can still be bought in the shops.

Taoiseach: in the days when the Irish leader always had an Irish name, such as Haughey or Fitzgerald, we called him by the English rank of Prime Minister. Now that they all have English names (Reynolds, Bruton, etc) we compensate by calling them the Taoiseach. It is the only Irish word that anyone in England knows, even though nobody is quite sure how to spell it, and although it sounds remarkably like "T-shirt".

Trust: a large body set up to run a hospital that is trusted by nobody.

Undisputed: an adjective formerly used of facts but now applied only to boxing champions.

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