Word-Nerdery: A Glossary for Our Times #1

Image by John Hain at Pixabay



A thing too big or complex for the human mind to grasp in its totality. Coined in 2008 by Timothy Morton, the term has been used to refer to phenomena as diverse as massive oil spills, capitalism, and – especially, the climate crisis. “Taken together, the feedback loops and immense forces changing the planet constitute a hyperobject that I can’t begin to think about, let alone understand.” (Morton)


A sustainable form of peatland agriculture and forestry that reduces greenhouse gas emissions from drained wetlands by re-establishing their original watery condition. “Paludiculture keeps the carbon in the ground.” (From the Latin “palus” meaning “swamp, morass”.)

Exculpated guilt

A form of arguably unjustified, assigned guilt which a person may nevertheless feel in spite of not being responsible for the damage. “Many parents and grandparents who had only vague climate awareness during the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s feel exculpated guilt when accused by young people today of not having done anything to prevent the current climate crisis.”

Repetitive Observation

The practice of going back on a weekly and seasonal basis to note small but meaningful changes in the same thing, especially in nature. “Henry David Thoreau was an expert repetitive observer of the precise times when specific flowers bloomed.” These days, such observations support conclusions about the accelerating effects of climate change on the environment.”

Initialism vs Acronym

An initialism is an abbreviation comprising —the first letters of a string of words designating the name of an entity. It is pronounced letter-by-letter, as in “IPCC” (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.) An acronym, by contrast, is an abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word, as in “UNESCO” – The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.


A handy term denoting anything capable of producing anxiety. “A host of things in my life are now anxiogenic: the news, climate change, forest fire smoke in the air, the drift of politics, my Mastercard bill, the Greenzine’s “Word-Nerdery.”

The Greenzine plans more of the above for the “word nerds” among us.

Word-Nerdery: A Glossary for Our Times #1 © 2023 by Tom Hurley in the Greenzine is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 

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