Aren’t Words Wonderful?

Spear Phishing.

What a colorful and attention-getting combination of old and new. And a great way to make a fairly complex concept (highly targeted fraudulent emails) concrete and credible.

It was attributed to David Jevans, chairman and founder of the non-profit

Anti-Phishing Working Group

in a recent article about a security breach at Epsilon. (We'll have to deal with the images that conjures up in a different post!)

Phrases that create a visual image carry a wealth of added meaning and impact.

Think housing bubble. Population explosion. Raising the bar.

Unfortunately, imagery can also be used to camouflage instead of clarify.

Doesn’t a

rolling brownout

include a complete loss of power for some people at some point in time? Will

surgical strike

capabilities eliminate c

ollateral damage

? And don’t even get me started on

right sizing


Wait a minute – isn't there an applicable adage here? "Writers don't create confusion; words do."

Or, maybe I've got that backwards ...

Side Note:

If you’re a fan of the art of euphemism, you'll want to know that nominations for the National Council of Teachers of English

Doublespeak Award

are due September 15. This dubious distinction recognizes “a glaring example of deceptive language by a public spokesperson.”

In a competition like that, how can you lose?