"catfishing"--early WOTY candidate?

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Thu Jan 17 01:56:54 UTC 2013

In his press conference this evening, Notre Dame athletic director
Jack Swarbrick referenced the movie "Catfish" and the MTV spinoff of
the same name, and also used the verbal noun "catfishing" (which he
admitted to learning about from Dr. Phil).

On Wed, Jan 16, 2013 at 8:05 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
> So we know about the hoax allegedly perpetrated on Manti Te'o, in which the
> celebrated Mormon linebacker from Notre Dame, who finished second in the
> Heisman Trophy competition in part because of the heartbreaking human
> interest story involving the simultaneous deaths of his beloved grandmother
> (of something) and girlfriend (of leukemia, following a car accident), which
> inspired him as he led the Fighting Irish to their top-ranked position in the
> college football polls and the national championship game (where they
> eventually got blown out).  It now develops that the girlfriend who
> heartbreakingly died never actually existed, although Te'o evidently was
> unaware of this (although there are conflicting stories).  What makes all of
> this backstory WOTY-worthy is that this practice of perpetrating such a
> hoax was known, at least on ABC's World News Tonight, as "catfishing".
> Ah, I just noticed that the original report that broke the hoax--
> http://deadspin.com/5976517/manti-teos-dead-girlfriend-the-most-heartbreaking-and-inspirational-story-of-the-college-football-season-is-a-hoax
>  --does refer to a recent movie "Catfish" that had some of these plot element.
> I guess I'd have gotten the reference if I'd ever seen the movie. So this is
> evidently a demovie verb formation of the kind along the lines of "Gaslighting"
> someone.  Most creative, perhaps?

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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