[Ads-l] Three usage questions

Mon Sep 14 03:28:30 UTC 2015

1)  "Underground astronaut" appears to be a new usage, devised specifically to describe the six women who participated in the excavation of fossils of homo naledi.  Most uses are from the last few days.  A newspaper database search (Access World News) finds only two articles that predate September 2015, and it turns out that both articles actually refer to the same group of six women.  (Stephen Goranson quoted one of these earlier today, but described it as a reference to an earlier find; it actually was an article about the homo naledi exploration, but before the fossils were formally named.)  Of course, it's possible that a more thorough investigation would find earlier examples, but I think I can speak with some confidence in saying that, at a minimum, this usage has popularized the term.

2)  I've never heard of "rope hats"; Google brings up examples, but none of the first few explain the name.  They appear to be baseball caps with a prominent cord separating the bill from the remainder of the item.  Does anyone know more about this term?

3)  "Fleek" was nominated for word of the year last year.  From the nomination at http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2015-January/135592.html:  
"Fleek", or more fully "on fleek", means on point, on the mark, stylish,
amazing or impeccable. First mentioned in the bot logs in August 2014, it's
still riding the peak. First used on Vine by Peaches Monroe in June 2014,
it was later popularised by Ariana Grande, who sang out the Vine on MTV in

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Susan G Yerkes
Sent: Saturday, September 12, 2015 12:33 PM
Subject: Three usage questions

Love this list-serve and have three questions:

1) A story in Friday's NTY on the "Homo Naledi" discovery


states that six "slender" women were chosen as the team to slither into the cave where the bones were found, and that the team members were  referred to as "underground astronauts."
Does anybody know if this is a new usage?

2) A Sept. 9 NYT story on Donald Trump caps  referred to what I always thought of "ball caps," "gimme caps" or trucker caps as "classic rope hats."


Where can I find an expanded explanation of the names for various versions of the billed cap?

3) The same NYT story ends with the conjecture that:
  This season’s Trump trucker hat will soon go the way of ‘on fleek.’ ”

What is "on fleek" and where did it come from (and where, or which way, did it "go"?)

Thanks in advance for any answers,

Susan Yerkes
San Antonio, TX
(Not a member of ADS, but an enthusiastic fan of your discussions)

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

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list