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VOL. 129 | NO. 148 | Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vic Fleming

Checking Out the Meanings Behind ‘Glamazon’

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I was checking something out online the other day when I came across the word glamazon.

Glamazon is not in many dictionaries, though it is in Wordnik. Wordnik’s cofounder, Erin McKean, gave a great TED Talk in 2007, “The Joy of Lexicography.” You can watch it on YouTube. I recommend it wholeheartedly.

McKean’s philosophy is that dictionary-compiling should be like fishing, rather than directing traffic (how to get into the dictionary) and punishing rule-breakers (by keeping them out). By McKean’s standards, glamazon is dictionariable.

Throw the net out into the sea of language. Drag it in. Glamazon will be flopping around on the floor of the boat. It’s a word that’s being used out there.

Enclosed by quotation marks, “glamazon” gets 418,000 Google hits. Remove the quotes, and the number increases to 5,770,000.

“Glamazon comes at you with the musical force of a hurrican!” (sic) reads a plug for a musical duo that emerged in 1995.

A female quartet called the Glamazons started performing in New York City in 2001. They made it onto “America’s Got Talent” in that show’s second season, 2007.

“Glamazon” is the fifth studio album recorded by the artist known as RuPaul in 2011. As well as the title of one of the songs on it.

Glamazon is the name of salons in Muskegon, Mich.; Harlem, Ga.; Vineland, N.J.; and Greenbay, Wisc. And probably other places as well.

The Glamazon Diaries is touted online as an “Entertainment Website.”

At a U.K. Website, I see a colorful array of shirts with “Glamazon” emblazoned across the chest.

Hit after hit promotes something associated with the word: Glamazon Shoes, Nieman-Marcus’s Gold Glamazon jewelry collection, glamazon wrap front dresses.

A significant number of glamazon products seem directed at plus-size, tall, and/or transgendered women.

Yet, the Oxford Dictionaries site doesn’t note this differentiation, defining glamazon as “A glamorous, powerfully assertive woman.” Dictionaries of lesser repute run the gamut, but tend toward common denominators of tall, beautiful, fashionable, exciting, and the like.

I was shocked when none of several women whom I would classify as glamazons, by Oxford’s definition, were familiar with the word.

Ever the educational resource, Wordnik offers examples of how the word has been and is being used:

“At Saturday’s brunch, we saw Lani Hay, a glamazon government contractor, work the room with her two brand-new tiny teacup-sized puppies.” Roxanne Roberts and Amy Argetsinger, “The Reliable Source,” Washington Post (5/1/2010).

“Last spring, Desiree Rogers, the glamazon White House social secretary, invited me – are you sitting down? – to help decorate the White House for the holidays!!!” Simon Soonan, “Tinselgate: My Side of the Story,” New York Observer (1/5/2010).

“Page Six reports that the glamazon shot her first campaign on Friday in New York, and we’ll get our first peek in fashion magazines’ September issues.” From “Linda Evangelista: The New Face Of Formerly Frumpy Talbots,” Huff Post Style (6/7/2010).

Meanwhile, check out this week’s I Swear Crossword.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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