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Olympic Lingo: Obscure Words Related to the London 2012 Summer Games

Austin, Texas. July 30, 2012 . In the spirit of public service, the editors of the Global Language Monitor, have selected a number of the more obscure words and phrases related to the London 2012 Summer Olympics and presented below with definitions and/or related factoids. “The history of the Olympic Games spans over 2800 years, with the Games themselves persisting for over 1,000 years in the Ancient World,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of GLM. “The Games have garnered a rich tapestry of linguistic innovation concerning the nature of the Games, the individual sports, and the rituals surrounding the quadrennial festival.” Below are some of the more obscure words and phrases with definitions and/or related factoids.

  1. Citius, Altius, Fortius (Olympic History) — The Olympic Motto is actually Latin (and not Greek) for Faster, Higher, Stronger)
  2. Dead Rubber (Tennis) — A match in a series where the outcome has already been decided by previous matches
  3. Eggbeater (Water Polo) — Kicking one’s feet quickly in a back-and-forth motion keep the body above water
  4. Fletching (Archery) — Traditionally, feathers from the left wing of a turkey, goose, or raptor used to stabilize an arrow; now replaced with synthetics
  5. Flu-Flu Arrow (Archery) — An arrow with extra ‘fletching’ to slow its flight
  6. High Drag Projectile (Badminton) — The birdie or shuttlecock
  7. Impulsion (Equestrian) — The thrust, impelling, or pushing power of a horse
  8. Kotinos (Olympic History) — Olive branches fixed in crowns of victory in the classical Greek Olympics
  9. Marathon (Olympic History — The word Marathon is derived from the Greek for fennel, the spice which apparently grew in abundance on the plains
  10. Nutmeg or Nuttie (Football) — Kicking the football between the legs of an opponent
  11. Pankration — A sport contested beginning in the 7th century BCE, that combined wrestling and boxing (similar to today’s Mixed Martial Arts)
  12. Pheidippidean Pheat (Olympic History) — Forget the Phelpsian Pheat of the Beijing Games, according to legend Pheidippides ran from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens pronounced, Victory! and then promptly died. (The actual distance was about 24 miles or 38.6 km.
  13. Repechage — First round losers are provided another opportunity to advance in a competition
  14. The Snatch Deadlift (Weightlifting)– Lifting the barbell in a single movement, as opposed to the Clean and Jerk
  15. Victor Ludorum (Olympic History) — The Champion of the Games, in Latin of course.

GLM has been tracking language at the Olympics since the Athens Games in 2004.



Paul JJ Payack is the founding president of both yourDictionary.com and the Global Language Monitor (LanguageMonitor.com). He is thinking about the Intersection of Technology and the Word.


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