Sunday, November 07, 2010

The Nouns of Young Girls

My pick for word of the week is acne-related.
acné excoriée des jeunes filles (ak-neh ecks-ko-ree-ay day joonz fee) — noun: a self-inflicted skin condition resulting from a person’s habit of picking at either real or imagined blemishes, ultimately worsening the quality of the skin.
Translated into English, the term means something like “the acne of young girls,” though the verb excorier is related to the English excoriate, meaning “to wear the skin of,” “to flay,” or “to denounce.” I love that this term exists and that it namechecks the kind of insecure girl who would stand in a mirror and press and stress their face in an effort to rid it of a single blackhead, only to spread the infection and cause a worse blemish than if they had simply done nothing.

But I chose acne excoriée des jeunes filles not only because it’s so wonderfully specific and evocative but also because the thing it describes can be metaphorically extended beyond the world of teens wracked by the horrors of puberty. Really, who can’t relate to the notion of a thing being made worse by virtue of it being fussed over — squeezed and prodded into an otherwise avoidable state of irritation?

Previous strange and wonderful words:
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