"catfishing"--early WOTY candidate?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 17 17:48:17 UTC 2013

On Jan 17, 2013, at 12:01 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> Another WOTY?  "Te'o-ing", to succeed "Tebowing"?

I like it, but why "both LDS phenomena"?  Tebow isn't a Mormon AFAIK, but a garden-variety evangelical Christian.  Possibly fundy, I don't know, but not LDS.


> And both LDS phenomena.
> Joel
> At 1/16/2013 08:05 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".  When I check this verb in
>> urbandictionary, however, what turns up is a gloss that strikes me
>> as unrelated:
>> ==============
>> To have one large pubic hair protruding from one's zipper, whether
>> purposely or by accident. The term comes from the long barbels, or
>> whiskers that stick out from the mouths of catfish. While the
>> whiskers of catfish house their taste buds and are used to search
>> for food in murky waters, the act of catfishing will only serve to
>> make you look like a complete slob, oblivious airhead, or creepy perv.
>> "So I was giving a presentation the other day, and I looked down and
>> realized that I was totally catfishing! I was so embarrassed, so I
>> spent the rest of the time with my back to the audience!"
>> ==============
>> A very useful verb to be sure, but nothing to do with hoaxes
>> involving non-existent girlfriends.  And the only other listed
>> meaning has to do with emulating the catfish in laziness and
>> bottom-feeding, again unrelated.  So what gives?  Should I be
>> checking "catphish"?
>> 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?
>> LH
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list