Previous euphemisms for lying are now, to use one outdated word, inoperative. In the latest British lingo, to withhold the truth is to be "economical."
"Economical" has been enshrined in the Longman Register of New Words, among 1,200 words and phrases including "plonker," "loads-amoney," "bonk journalism" and "yah."All, according to Longman's editor, John Ayto, have insinuated themselves into the language of Chaucer, Shakespeare and Dickens since 1986.
"Economical" owes its new meaning to court cases involving "Spycatcher," the expose by former intelligence official Peter Wright that the government attempted to suppress.
In a court case in Australia over "Spycatcher," former British civil service head Sir Robert Armstrong admitted he had previously been "economical with the truth."
"Economical" thus has come to be euphemism for "deliberately withholding something from public knowledge," the Register said.
"Sexy" has been tamed, now meaning attractive, enjoyable or trendy, the Register said, but the language has found new ways to talk about the birds and the bees.
The press' infatuation with sex has produced the term "bonk journalism," defined in the Register as "journalism concerned with obtaining and printing accounts of the supposed sexual activities of well-known people."
"Plonker," the insult Del Boy constantly hurls at his younger brother in the British Broadcasting Corp. TV sitcom "Only Fools and Horses," has established itself as a synonym for a dimwitted and ineffectual person.
The Register regretfully chronicled a growing tendency, blamed on the former 13 colonies, to use nouns as verbs: "to nuke," a usage denounced as an "alarmingly cozy" euphemism for starting World War III; "to stiff," or fail in a commercial venture, and "to gender," or stereotypically associate something with men or women.
Several new words and phrases - the derogatory "dependency culture" and "learned helplessness" along with the approving "can do" - are owed to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
She also is credited with reviving a term from her native Lincolnshire: "frit," meaning someone who is frightened.
One of her wealthy supporters in the financial world is now said to be "well-wedged," a real "loadsamoney."
"Loadsamoney (noun), British informal: extensive and conspicuous wealth," the Register defines. The word comes from a comedian, Harry "Loadsamoney" Enfield, who portrays a grotesque, cash-waving character, and launched the term on its way from cabaret through the House of Commons and into the vernacular.
In the wallet of a loadsamoney one might find an "Archer," or 2,000 pounds ($3,700), a sum that figured prominently in a 1987 libel suit won by novelist and former Conservative Party chairman Jeffrey Archer against a newspaper.
A loadsamoney plonker who is soon parted from his Archers is to be pitied as a "lombard" - "loads of money but a real dunce," or words to that effect.
Yuppie tendencies in the political opposition are now disparaged as "Ramada socialism," a term credited to Labor Party lawmaker Dennis Skinner to describe in luxury-hotel terms the "bourgeoisification of the Labor Party."
To which the yuppie might concur, "Yah," which is described as "the nasal bray of the Sloane." That refers to the fashionable west London turf around Sloane Square, where smart young things were known years ago as "Sloane Rangers."
The Longman Register of New Words will be published Jan. 9.