The World of Doublespeak Vocabulary
Anomaly (noun) — an incongruity or inconsistency or a deviation from the common rule, type, arrangement, or form.
Pronunciation: uh-nom-uh-lee
“As Kay Parker of NASA
said, experts were "working in theanomalyinvestigation." The "anomaly" was the explosion of the Challenger.”
Memory Tip: Anomaly sounds similar to abnormal, which means deviating from the normal rule (very similar to anomaly definition.)
Danielle Ludwig

Adam Baracani
uh-proh-pree-ey-shuh n
An act of a legislature authorizing money to be paid from the treasury for a specified use
In 1977 the Pentagon tried to slip funding for the neutron bomb unnoticed into an appropriations bill by calling it an “enhanced radiation device.


Appropriations are appropriate if money is needed.

Pronunciation: [byoor-uh-kra-teez]
Definition: A style of language, typically used by bureaucrats, that is full of circumlocutions, euphemisms, buzzwords, abstractions, etc.
Sentence: The investigation into the Challenger disaster in 1986 revealed the gobbledygook and bureaucratese used by many involved in the shuttle program.
Memory trick: bureaucrats, or politicians, rarely speak honestly. They use various technical terms to confuse and distort the truth. This talk is called bureaucratese.
external image cheney_master_bureaucrat.jpg

Embedded [em-bed – ed]
Embedded: To cause to be an integral part of a surrounding whole, or, to fix firmly in a surrounding mass
Parts of Speech: verb
Sentence: not in article
Memory Tip: embedded has the word “bed” in it, and people like to fix themselves into their beds to go to sleep
embedded picture.jpg
Brandis Heffner



Definition: an inoffensive or indirect expression that is substituted for one that is considered offensive or harsh

Sentence: The euphemism, an inoffensive or positive word or phrase designed to avoid a harsh, unpleasant, or distasteful reality, can at times be doublespeak.
Memory trick: Euphemism and feminism sound similar. Feminism is associated with gentleness and tact, just as euphemisms are.

external image santafire.jpg

Fiscal: of or pertaining to the public treasury or revenues;financial matters in general
Pronunciation: [fis-kuhl].
Sentence from the article: " There are no slums or ghettos, just the "inner city" or "substandard housing" where the "disadvantaged," "economically nonaffluent," or "fiscal underachievers" live.
Memory Tip: in latin fiscus means money basket.




Definition: Intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest

Sentence: “But it [Jargon] can also be doublespeak – pretentious, obscure, and esoteric terminology used to make the simple appear complex, and not to express but impress.” Pg. 154


Memory hint: so few people probably know what “esoteric” means, that it in itself is esoteric language.
Erin Vivirito

Michael Braun

Equity (noun): 1. The quality of being fair and impartial: "equity of treatment".

2. The value of the shares issued by a company

3. Stocks and shares that carry no fixed interest

Pronunciation: [ek-wi-tee]

Sentence: “Attentive observers of the English language also learned recently that the multibillion dollar stock market crash of 1987 was simply a “fourth quarter equity retreat”…”
external image stock-market.jpg

Memory tip: Think of equity as equal

Fulsome - Alexandra Walch
Pronunciation: [fool-suh m]
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: offensive to good taste, especially as being excessive; overdone or gross; disgusting; sickening; repulsive; excessively or insincerely lavish
Original Sentence: “We left out—it wasn't made accurate, it wasn't made fulsome, it was fixed by omission.”
Memory Tip: If you have eaten in excess, you will feel “full” and possibly sick. “Full” is like “Fulsome”

Lady Gaga.jpg
Adam Baracani
To handle, manage, or use, especially with skill, in some process of treatment or performance
From Revenue Enhancement to Terminal Living (1980), Lutz first awakened Americans to how people in important positions were manipulating language.


A powerful man can manipulate others

Michael Braun
Jargon (noun):1. Special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand.
2. A form of language regarded as barbarous, debased, or hybrid.
Pronunciation: [jahr-guh n, -gon]
Sentence: “Jargon, the specialized language of a trade or profession, allows colleagues to communicate with each other clearly, efficiently, and quickly.”
external image jargon.jpg
Memory tip: The "gone" in jargon[e] could mean that you're lost as in you don't understand what someone else is talking about.

(noun or verb)
Nuance(d)- a subtle difference or distinction in expression, meaning, or response.
- a very slight difference or variation in color or tone
Sentence: "there was a general understanding that he [North] was to withhold information. . . . I . . . did not expect him to lie to the committee. 1 expected him to be evasive. . . . I'm sure they [North's answers] were very carefully crafted, nuanced.” (verb)

nuance.jpg These are slight variations of the "color" (think of tone)
memory tip: Look at the picture above or think of people manipulating their stories in court to make them have a slightly different meaning.

Sachi Nagase

Gobbledygook (gob-uhl-dee-gook ) Hear it pronounced.

Noun. Language that is meaningless or is made unintelligible by excessive use of abstruse technical terms; nonsense.

“Such doublespeak is simply a matter of overwhelming the audience with technical, unfamiliar words.”Some gobbledygook, however impressive it may sound, doesn't even make sense.”


Examples in The World of Doublespeak

"I guess I should warn you, if I turn out to be particularly clear, you've probably misunderstood what I've said."

During the 1988 presidential campaign, vice presidential candidate Senator Dan Quayle explained the need for a strategic defense initiative by saying: "Why wouldn't an enhanced deterrent, a more stable peace, a better prospect to denying the ones who enter conflict in the first place to have a reduction of offensive systems and an introduction to defensive capability. I believe this is the route the country will eventually go."

In 1974, Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, was testifying before a Senate committee and was in the difficult position of trying to explain why President Nixon's economic policies weren't effective in fighting inflation: "It is a tricky problem to find the particular calibration in timing that would be appropriate to stem the acceleration in risk premiums created by falling incomes without prematurely aborting the decline in the inflation-generated risk premiums."

When Jesse Moore, NASA's associate administrator, was asked if the performance of the shuttle program had improved with each launch or if it had remained the same, he answered, "I think our performance in terms of the liftoff performance and in terms of the orbital performance, we knew more about the envelope we were operating under, and we have been pretty accurately staying in that. And so I would say the performance has not by design drastically improved. I think we have been able to characterize the performance more as a function of our launch experience as opposed to it improving as a function of time."

Memory tip: Gobbledygook sounds like a nonsense word, and that's basically what it's describing: language so needlessly complicated and confusing that it becomes utter nonsense.

Krystle Koe

Idiom: id·i·om, noun
Definition- An expression with a meaning that cannot be derived from the meanings of the original words.
Original Sentence- She used many idioms in the lecture, which confused the foreigners from interpreting English.

Memory Key- Idiom sounds like idiot, so think about when a person says an idiom which you are unfamiliar with, then you probably think that are an idiot.
Marie Coughlin

Inflated Language
Pronunciation: in-flay-tuhd lang-goo-edge
Part of speech: noun
Definition: words that are used more to impress than to convey meaning.
Original Sentence: A final kind of doublespeak is simply inflated language.
The doublespeak of inflated language can have serious consequences.


Memory Key- Inflated means larger than usual, so you can think about language that is larger than usual but does not add any value or meaning
-Isabel Park

Pronunciation: [mahy-kroh-man-ij]
Definition: verb, to manage or control with excessive attention to minor details.
Original Sentence: When asked why U.S. forces lacked intelligence information on Grenada before they invaded the island in 1983, Admiral Wesley L. McDonald told reporters that "We were not micromanaging Grenada intelligence-wise until about that time frame."
micromanage photo.gif

Memory tip: Think of the micro part of micromanage, which has the same micro as microscope which is scientific. In science you want to be as exact as possible which has to do with the attention to minor details.
Jasmine McDowell

Obfuscate - Alexandra Walch
Pronunciation: [ob-fuh-skeyt, ob-fuhs-keyt]
Part of Speech: verb (used object), ob·fus·cat·ed, ob·fus·cat·ing.
Definition: to confuse, bewilder, or stupefy; to make obscure or unclear

Original Sentence: “Basic to doublespeak is incongruity, the incongruity between what is said, or left unsaid, and what really is: between the word and the referent, between seem and be, between the essential function of language, communication, and what doublespeak does—mislead, distort, deceive, inflate, circumvent, obfuscate.”
Memory Tip: Something opaque cannot be seen through. “Opaque” sounds similar to “Obfuscate”


Pronunciation: plaw-zuh-buhl
Part of speech: adjective
Definition: Having an appearance of truth or reason; seemingly worthy of approval or acceptance;
Sentence: Official lies were "plausible deniability."

inflated language.jpg

Memory Key: “plausible” sounds like “possible”, and if something has an appearance of truth or reason it also appears possible
-Isabel Park

Preemptive: done before somebody else has had an oppurtunity to act so as to make his or her planned action pointless.

Pronunciation: pre-emptive
Sentence from the article: This doublespeak is in keeping with such military doublespeak as "preemptive counterattack" for first strike, "engage the enemy on all sides" for ambush, "tactical redeployment" for retreat, and "air support" for bombing.

Memory Tip: Pre means before, so the incident occurs early or before planned.


Pronunciation: pre·ten·tious [pri-ten-shuhs]
Definition: adjective, characterized by assumption of dignity or importance; full of make-believe
Original Sentence: But it can also be doublespeak—pretentious, obscure, and esoteric terminology used to make the simple appear complex and not to express but impress.
pretentious photo.jpg
Memory tip: -ious means full of and pretense means make-believe
Jasmine McDowell

Residual (re·sid·u·al/riˈzijo͞oəl/)

Remaining after the greater part or quantity has gone.


A quantity remaining after other things have been subtracted or allowed for.


Original sentence: North used the words “residuals” and “diversions” to refer to the millions of dollars which were raised for the contras by overcharging Iran for arms.

Sample Sentence: Even though he was extremely hungry, Jason’s friends noticed some residual food on his plate after the meal.
Memory Tip: If you're trying to think of which words to use and you remember that residual is one of your words, you can remember that residual is still left over, and residual is like leftovers, because it is something that remains at the end.

Krystle Koe

Sanctity- the quality or state of being holy or sacred
Sentence: "Capital punishment is our society's recognition of the sanctity of human life." (noun)


Memory Tip: Think of Jesus when you think of something being holy or sacred, sanctity sounds like sacred

Sachi Nagase

Omission (noun)—something neglected or left undone or someone or something that has been left out or excluded.
Pronunciation: oh-mish-uh n
“We left out—it wasn't made accurate, it wasn't made fulsome, it was fixed by omission."
Memory tip: Think of omission as “Oh Mission.” People often say “Oh shoot”, etc., when they forget to do something, so “Oh Mission” is similar as it is something that has been left undone or neglected.
Danielle Ludwig

Tactful [takt-fuh l]
Tactful: having or showing concern about upsetting people
Parts of Speech: adjective
Sentence: But the euphemism can also be a tactful word or phrase; for example, “passed away” functions not just to protect the feelings of another person but also to express our concern for another’s grief.
Memory Tip: tactful sounds similar to tacky which is being rude or vulgar, this is the opposite of tactful
tactful picture.jpg
Brandis Heffner