Incel, Big Dick Energy, JOMO, Thain Thain: Words that Made Our Vocab Richer in 2018 (Or Not)


Incel, Big Dick Energy, JOMO, Thain Thain: Words that Made Our Vocab Richer in 2018 (Or Not)

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

Do you speak 2018? The end of the year is a great time to take stock of the slang the world’s leading linguists (read: Twitter users) came up with over the past 12 months. It’s not only Shashi Tharoor who is capable of introducing new terms into our lexicon, as this farrago of words proves.Toxic

What it means: Painfully oblivious regarding the bare minimum effort it takes to be a decent person in 2018.

Oxford Dictionary nominated “toxic” as its Word of the Year, given how many versatile contexts its been deployed in. From toxic masculinity, to toxic work environments, the word is a concise attack that can be aimed at any behaviour or individual dulling your shine with archaic views or unwanted opinions.

How to use it: “The Indian stand-up comedy scene is even more toxic than a Britney Spears single.”

Thain Thain

What it means: A literal translation of “bang bang” – but if you’re a UP cop, it means “brazening it out when you’re outta ammo”.

“Thain Thain!” shouted the policeman, as his partner’s rifle ran out of ammo and the crooks fled the scene of the crime. The quick-thinking constable’s improv skills went viral, and fast became India’s favourite exclamation to scream without provocation. There were even Facebook events in Delhi and Mumbai to gather and scream “Thain Thain!” in public places.

How to use it: “I just marked myself as attending the “Screaming Thain Thain! At Marine Drive” event on FB. What has my life come to?”


What it means: Having either the nerves of steel or lack of intellect to carry out a particularly foolhardy task.

When Sacred Games released this year, Ganesh Gaitonde became a catchphrase-generator almost instantly. But while lines about being God (Kabhi kabhi lagta hai ki apun hi bhagwan hai), or god not giving a shit (Bhagwan ko land farak padta hai) are highly dramatic, it was the simple “daring” that actually wound up being used in daily conversations, usually as a precursor to something especially stupid taking place.

How to use it: “Tere mein daring hain toh hawaldar ke saamne red light tod.”

Urban Naxal

What it means: Someone who is trying to destroy India by pointing out the government’s mistakes.

The biggest hit of professional tweeter and amateur filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri’s career, the term “Urban Naxals” caught on like wildfire after he named them as the greatest threat facing the country. Their international outlook and criticism of the ruling party is particularly troubling to Agnihotri, who firmly believes that a conspiracy to ruin the country is afoot.

How to use it: “I prefer Nestle’s Maggi to Patanjali’s instant noodles. I guess that makes me an Urban Naxal.”


What it means: A person who has turned his inability to get laid into a central part of his identity. Short for “involuntary celibate”.

The term Incel has been kicking around for a few years, but gained prominence this year after a self-declared Incel drove a van into a crowd in Toronto, proclaiming the rise of the “Incel Rebellion”. The term itself is a crystallisation of the sexual frustration of a generation of young men who want to pin the blame of their personal failings on society.

How to use it: “Instead of declaring the #MeToo movement a sham, why not just declare yourself an Incel?”


What it means: An acronym that’ll make Incels proud, THOT is short for “That Ho Over There”.

Having a hard time coming up with an acceptable term for an attractive girl whose name you can’t be bothered to say? If you’re the type of person who enjoys insulting total strangers for kicks, you can always refer to her as a THOT. And when you think about it, what’s more 2018 than unprompted trolling?

How to use it: “I don’t know why that THOT blocked me on Instagram; all I did was ask for nudes.”

Big Dick Energy

What it means: When swag gets injected with performance-enhancing drugs, what you get is Big Dick Energy, or BDE.

Despite the very phallic nomenclature, Big Dick Energy is actually a gender-neutral force. It denotes unshakeable confidence and comfort in your own skin, and attracts an army of followers seemingly of its own volition.

How to use it: “After getting a taste of Sara Ali Khan’s BDE on Koffee, I’m a fan!”


What it means: The act of a shitty person psychologically manipulating a regular one into doubting their own sanity.

One year after #MeToo became a cultural movement, its terminology became common parlance in discussions at offices and around dinner tables. As sexual predators’ had their methods exposed, gaslighting was revealed as one of the nastier ways they would use to cover their tracks.

How to use it: “Listen to me, you’re not crazy. Your boyfriend is gaslighting you. He deserves to be an Incel.”

Shame Leave

What it means: The short, convenient, self-imposed break an influential man takes to let public memory fade after being accused of sexual harassment.

This is a problematic occurrence, an easy way out for people to disassociate from unsavoury accusations by ducking out of the public view. However, another fallout of the #MeToo movement is this sly trend was noticed and transgressors were called out for nothing but their self-prescribed sabbatical.

How to use it: “Will Kevin Spacey’s internet meltdown mark the end of his shame leave?”


What it means: After suffering from FOMO throughout 2017, this was the year we discovered JOMO, or the Joy of Missing Out.

Frankly, it’s a relief to finally have a convenient word to express how much more enjoyable it is to sit at home in your pajamas on New Year’s Eve watching your favourite TV show, than go to a crowded, noisy club where someone is very likely to throw up on your new shoes.

How to use it: “I heard <that outed comedian> did a surprise set at the Laugh Club yesterday. Never have I felt such JOMO before.”