Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 12 06:32:17 UTC 2013

OED lacks a definition of "chatter" that relates to contemporary
electronic surveillance issues--the kind of "internet chatter" that led
to the shutdown of 19 US embassies and consulates last week
( Some take the meaning even further
( One guest on a Fox News
show--a retired "intelligence agent"--complained incessantly that the
word was misleading and perpetrated on the intelligence community by

There are even broad definitions of "internet chatter":
> Why did /The Avengers/ blow the roof off the box office, while
> /Battleship /sank to the bottom of the sea? Blame internet chatter.
> The number of times a film is mentioned in blog posts and social media
> strongly reflects how much money it is pulling in at the box office,
> according to a new model developed by Japanese physicists.

I have little evidence for the origin of the term, but I strongly
suspect that blaming political briefing officers for the coinage is just

Tooth "chatter" is noted in Macmillan and AHD, but also isn't in the
OED. OED does list the verb (chatter v. 3.), so "chattering" is covered,
but not the short noun version. Oddly enough, there is a reference to
tool noises (chatter n. 4.) that matches one of the verb definitions
(chatter v. 4.), but that verb definition is a recursion to the tooth
one ("Applied to similar sounds").


The American Dialect Society -

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