Collins Dictionary Words of the Year.

I usually ignore these “word of the year” stories, which are basically clickbait for lexicographers, but hell, this one (by Helen Bushby for BBC) includes splooting (“The act of lying flat on the stomach with the legs stretched out” — see this LH post), so how could I not post it? This one is useful:

Carolean: Of or relating to Charles III of Great Britain and Northern Ireland or his reign.

And the story also gives me a hook to vent about the repulsive term “quiet quitting,” defined as “The practice of doing no more work than one is contractually obliged to do, especially in order to spend more time on personal activities” — in other words, what I would call “doing what you’re paid to do.” The modern world has many terrible features, but one of the ones that makes me grind my teeth the hardest is the general acceptance of the idea that you owe your employer every speck of your time and brainpower (and this has, of course, only gotten worse with everyone being eternally connected). You’re probably not paid enough anyway, unless you’re a CEO or entertainment star; you don’t owe them a damn thing beyond what you were hired to do. Solidarity forever! (Thanks for the link go to the excellent cuchuflete, who is of course not responsible for my wild-eyed ranting.)


  1. My latest what-does-Wikipedia-say reveals some IMO good news: its “quiet quitting” article is going to be merged with the article about the good old trade union term “work to rule”. Though it seems Americans sprinkle some hyphens in the phrase, which seems, ironically, more than is called for.

  2. 1. I don’t want any answers, but when would anyone need to sploot? Or mention it?? The mind boggles.

    2. Carolean was apparently used to describe soldiers of King Charles XI and Xii of Sweden, according to Wikipedia.

    3. “Quiet quitting”, eh? I can hear the sound of a thousand lawyers’ pencils being sharpened. The world has gone mad.

  3. cuchuflete says

    Good rant, Mister Hat.

    Once upon a time, long away and far ago, I got hired by a consulting client to go over to the dark side, and toil directly for a paternalistic, old fashioned, highly profitable New England manufacturing company. In those pre-web days, loyalty of employees to firm was matched by loyalty of firm towards employees.
    Then a green eyeshade became CEO.
    We were given pagers, so that family life became subservient to our interminable jobs. Buzzwords about “work/life balance” were spewed with frequency. Though it was called just doin’ my job, man quiet work to rule replaced “proud to go the extra mile”. I never questioned my staff about it; they had earned the right to a private life.
    One of our (old habits die hard) largest subsidiares was headed by a Californian, stylistically far from well starched New England bean counters. When a N.E. employee bragged that he had never missed a day of work in forty some years, sick or not, Left Coast fellow gently murmured,
    “That would make a sad headstone inscription.”

    I’m sure the above has some slight tie to language.

  4. My latest what-does-Wikipedia-say reveals some IMO good news: its “quiet quitting” article is going to be merged with the article about the good old trade union term “work to rule”.

    I dunno — I’m certainly not going to get into a Wikiwar about it, but I don’t think that’s right. Work to rule is an explicitly anti-management tactic intended to force negotiations (especially when workers have been forbidden to strike); “quiet quitting” is (if I understand the term correctly based on the many news stories I’ve seen) simply not going above and beyond (staying till 3 AM to get all the work done or whatever), which is not at all the same. It’s just what we used to call “working.”

  5. As the joke goes, “we have flex hours: you can come in as early as you want and leave as late as you want.”

  6. For my entire life I have been, like Nigel Molesworth, a New Elizabethan. Now I’m supposed to suddenly become a Carolean?

  7. Trond Engen says


    An ugly latinism. I suggest ‘charlatan’.

  8. David Eddyshaw says

    I’m more of a Carolingian, myself.

    WP on “Carolingian dynasty” yields the excellent word “Pippinid”, which I don’t recall ever having seen before.

    (Seems to me that by rights they ought to be Pippinings, though, to go with the Arnulfids.)

  9. Then there are those interminable hours spent on Facebook when people should actually be working… (I’m not against “quiet quitting” and rebelling against the expectation that all employees should be ready to spring to work every moment of their waking day, but it does cut both ways… I’ve seen an awful lot of workplace computer screens set to non-work activities.)

  10. Previous discussions of regnal era names and Pippinid names.

  11. Carolean? Three syllables or four? Stress on second or third?

    Not that I’m at all likely to use the word but I don’t want be accused of lese majeste. Or maybe I do.

  12. I just ate a pippin. It’s what I do this time of year (when I could be working).

  13. I’ve seen an awful lot of workplace computer screens set to non-work activities.

    So? As long as the work gets done, who cares? I’ve seen studies that say people are more productive when they are able to “goof off” when they need to, and that makes sense to me. Keeping your nose to the grindstone all day just wears your nose down. But bosses feel a basic, primitive need to exert control over everything, whether it makes sense or not.

  14. ka-ROL-yen, i hope!
    (though i may use pippinid*, myself)

    * with a derisive eye to the stephen schwartz musical as well as the post-merovingians and post-neo-elizabethans.

  15. It is possible for “quiet quitting” to be conflated with “work to rule” because so many people have internalized the attitude that only commie-hippy-slackers are less than 100% passionate about their employer/employment 24 hours a day. I have had many young (under 50) people working under me who:
    a) volunteer to work through weekends for some semi-important project without asking for comp days,
    b) start and complete major projects while on vacation,
    c) react with total incomprehension when I tell them it is a bad idea to obsess about work 24 hours a day and to give your labor away for free.

    I like to think that this is because of my brilliant and inspiring leadership (yeah, to know me is to love me), but I have to admit that the ground has shifted in the last generation.

  16. Carrollean? Relating to Lewis Carroll – who was a Charles.

    = topsy-turvy, defying logic

    (or is there already quite enough of that in the UK?)

  17. David L – 4 syllables with the stress on the third.

    (Still wondering why everyone except me, apparently, is splooting. It must be an age thing. I was just born too late.)

    LH – please make the link work. My skills aren’t up to it.

  18. Jen in Edinburgh says

    I think it may be mainly cats who sploot, although I have done from time to time.

  19. I have had many young (under 50) people working under me who:
    a) volunteer to work through weekends for some semi-important project without asking for comp days,
    b) start and complete major projects while on vacation,
    c) react with total incomprehension when I tell them it is a bad idea to obsess about work 24 hours a day and to give your labor away for free.

    God, that’s depressing.

  20. Still wondering why everyone except me, apparently, is splooting.

    It’s not really a people thing; as Jen says, cats do it, and so do squirrels (in fact, my wife and I learned the word in connection with them).

  21. Kate Bunting says

    I’ve always heard it pronounced Ca-ro-LE-an, and referring to the era of Charles II.

  22. J.W. Brewer says

    The new feller on the throne is apparently rejecting Latinity by being “CHARLES III” on his coinage rather than e.g. GEORGIVS VI like his grandfather or EDWARDVS VIII like his great-uncle. So I’m not sure his reign really deserves a Latinate adjective. (His mother gracefully sidestepped the issue since one possible Latin spelling of “Elizabeth” is “Elizabeth.”)

    Note, however, that “Caroline” is also a well-attested adjective for stuff having to do with the time period during which one or other prior CAROLVS was D.G. REX. E.g.

  23. Yes, I would have expected “Caroline” myself.

  24. Trond Engen says

    The confusion runs deep.

    Karolinska institutet

    The Karolinska Institute (KI; Swedish: Karolinska Institutet; sometimes known as the (Royal) Caroline Institute in English) is a research-led medical university in Solna within the Stockholm urban area of Sweden.


    The institute’s name is a reference to the Caroleans.


    Caroleans (Swedish: karoliner), from Carolus, the Latin form of the name Charles, is a term used to describe soldiers of the Swedish army during the reigns of Kings Charles XI and Charles XII of Sweden, and specifically from 1680, when Charles XI instituted an absolute monarchy and embarked on a series of sweeping military reforms, to the death of Charles XII in 1718.

  25. OED, s.v. Caroline, adj.:

    1. Of or pertaining to Charles: esp.

    a. of Charles the Great (Charlemagne); spec. designating a style of minuscule handwriting developed in France at the time of Charlemagne.
    b. of Charles I and II of England, or their period.

    That’s from 1888; when they update it they can add III.

  26. J.W. Brewer says

    I’m not sure when after the 17th century “Caroline” turned into a popular given name for baby girls – in the U.S. it was in the top 100 circa 1880 and has been in the top 100 again since 1994 after staying in the top 300 for all the intervening years except a short bad patch in the mid-1950’s. The pattern may have been otherwise in other Anglophone societies, of course. But the popularity of the given name may to some extent block the naturalness of adjectival usage and make people want some fussier thing like “Carolean” instead.

  27. J.W. Brewer says

    Separately, the similarity to the “work-to-rule” concept is that work-to-rule was in fact an effective labor tactic to get leverage against management precisely because everyone knew that the ordinary and expected smooth and efficient functioning of the workplace in fact required the workers to do more and/or different things (not always the same) than the bare minimum that they Absolutely Had to Do According to the Official Rules If They Insisted On It, and everyone was generally okay with that unless and until the union needed to exert leverage by getting people into a work-to-rule mode. It’s a question of proportion and degree, and how far out of sync expectations may have gotten from technical-bare-minimum. It also to some extent depends on the nature of the business, with the brutal expectation that people will potentially be available 24/7 to deal with someone else’s idea of a crisis sometimes being driven by the external customers/clients and sometimes merely by internal management.

  28. Carolien is a Dutch girl’s name.
    In the “Nederlandse Voornamenbank” of the “Meertens Instituut” you can search for names. In the results a graph is shown of the popularity as a function of time. Example:

  29. cuchuflete says


    Advice to Left Pondians (ponderers?) who may have, as I do, a Right Pondian spouse:

    Do not refer to the present Carolean as Chuckie three sticks.

    The black and blue marks are turning yellowish. A full recovery is expected.

    FWIMBW, Carolean is carolino in Spanish.

  30. Is “The Chuckster” an acceptable alternative?

  31. David Eddyshaw says

    The correct form is “Brian.”

  32. Stu Clayton says

    stick stick stick stick
    stick stick stick stick
    stick stick stick stick
    sticky sticky stick stick

    I find this mantra soothing in moments of great moment. It’s bouncier than that old boring ॐ.

  33. Well, gunsquiddles!

  34. cuchuflete says

    Hunting in vain for disquisitions on gunsquiddles, I found a youtubian squirrel with a gun.

    Which recalled LH’s comment about sploot and squirrels.

    From there but a short hop to

  35. Every statute enacted during the present king’s reign will be a Chuckie R. Law.

  36. @Trond Engen. I do not understand the correction you are trying to make about the name of the medical school founded by King Karl XIII on 13 December 1810 and originally called Kongl. Carolinska medico-chirurgiska institutet.

    Are you saying that it was named for soldiers rather than for the king (who had been on the throne since the year before)?

    Or are you saying that its English name should not include the word Caroline? (It is sometimes called the Royal Caroline Institute or the Caroline Institute in English).

    If so, the English adjective Caroline means ‘of or relating to Charles’ and the Swedish equivalent of the male given name Charles is Karl.

  37. I first learned work-to-rule type of labor activity as “Italian strike”. It was in Russian, but my friend Wiki tells me that it is an English expression as well and Italians call it sciopero bianco (any reason?). In any case, as Russians say “we pretend we are working, you pretend you are paying us”.

  38. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @M, Karolinska Institutet was created as a military medical school in the 1810, under king Charles XII. There was a much older medical school in Stockholm that educated general practitioners for civil life. (KI has since then lost its connection to the military and is now ranked with the medical faculties of the universities, but initially its professors also [separately] held military rank as Surgeons General and the like). It’s hard to know exactly how the king was thinking, of course, but note that it was created as the Royal Carolean Institute so he was in there once already.

    On the other hand, Charles X Gustavus created a Royal Carolean Academy which doesn’t appear to have any military connections — it later became the University of Lund. But that was 150 years earlier, before the wars of expansion where the name “Karolin” for military personnel is supposed to have been introduced..

    ObLinguistic: Swedish merged a lot of unstressed vowels to /a/ where Danish (and some Norwegian, I’m sure) have /e/ [ə]. There is a class of nouns in /-a/ which mostly continues old feminines (but also attracts words like pizza, hence plural pizzor), but there is no m/f gender concord. Karolinska is simply the weak form of the adjective karolinsk and occurs here because institutet is in the definite form. (Alternatively, because a determiner was supposed to exist, Det Karolinska Institutet, but it’s omitted in well known names and collocations. Danish keeps the head word in the non-definite form in such phrases, like Det kongelige Bibliotek, so we can’t omit the determiner. On the gripping hand, a genetive is a determiner, thus Københavns Universitet, and Stockholms Universitet doesn’t get the definite suffix either. [I never thought about that before]).

  39. Kate Bunting says

    J.W.Brewer – According to the Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, ‘Caroline’ was introduced into England in the 18th century by George II’s queen, Caroline of Ansbach. It was originally an Italian name (Carolina) which had spread into Germany.

  40. Trond Engen says

    @M: I meant my examples to show that the English adjectives have been inconsistently applied for a long time. The early 18th century soldiers were called Caroleans, presumably also by their contemporaries, while the early 19th century is called Caroline.

    It’s of course also interesting that the medical school was named after the idolized king’s soldiers just when Bernadotte chose to resurrect the name of the idolized king. For my purpose it means little more than that one might have expected the same adjective in English for the soldiers and the school.

  41. PlasticPaddy says

    Re sciopero bianco, there are also “sciopero pignolo” and “ostruzionismo” to describe this kind of activity on the part of workers. These latter terms strike me as more judgmental/pejorative with their emphasis on the presumed attitude of the worker. Maybe bianco is a more neutral word, i.e., any obstruction may be unintended, and a person who fulfils the demands of the contract as written is not necessarily a fanatically or unreasonably fastidious individual.

  42. Having just come from the jaywalking thread, it occurs to me that bosses : workers :: cars : walkers.

  43. David Eddyshaw says

    Indeed; as I said there: Rise up, Americans!

  44. The Carolinas in America (North and South, which were originally founded as a single colony) are named after Charles I.

  45. The “quiet quitting” reminds me of “revenge bedtime procrastination,” supposedly a common phenomenon in China, see here. There’s nothing “revenge” about wanting/needing some time for yourself. Which if you work from 9 to 9 every day, you don’t have.

  46. Exactly.

  47. David Marjanović says

    AFAIK, quiet-quitting is passive-aggressive – i.e. completely secret: you leave it to your boss to find out you’ve quiet-quit, or else to suffer without knowing what has changed.

    when would anyone need to sploot?

    I sleep on my stomach. I can’t sleep (for long) when actually bearing weight on my chin and keeping my brain above my average altitude, but I often end up in that position for a while while awake. Admittedly I’ve never needed a word for it.

  48. Most of employment in US is “at-will”, which means you can disappoint your boss only so much. When labor market is tight, workers can relax a bit. It’s the economy, …

  49. Squirrels sploot / and it’s cute/ when they do’t.

  50. I spend about a third of my reading time in bed, typically by splooting with a pillow under my chest.

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