Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for June 28, 2020 is:
argot • AHR-goh • noun
: the language used by a particular type or group of people : an often more or less secret vocabulary and idiom peculiar to a particular group
“Should all go well, after three weeks or more, the state would move on to phase two, which officials, creating a new virus-age argot, have labeled ‘Cautious.'” — Matt Stout and Tim Logan, The Boston Globe, 18 May 2020
“The Universe, [Galileo] famously wrote, ‘is written in the language of mathematics.’ It was an argot that allowed him to break reliance on the Aristotelian cosmology prized by the Catholic Church, and to forge a new, quantitative study of nature.” — Alison Abbott, Nature, 4 May 2020
Did you know?
We borrowed argot from French in the early 1800s, although our language already had several words covering its meaning. There was jargon, the Anglo-French ancestor of which meant “twittering of birds”; it had been used for specialized (and often obscure or pretentious) vocabulary since the 1600s. There was also lingo, from the Latin word lingua, meaning “language”; that term had been in use for more than a century. English novelist and lawyer Henry Fielding used it of “court gibberish”—what we tend to call legalese. And speaking of legalese, the suffix -ese is a newer means of indicating arcane vocabulary. One of its very first applications at the turn of the 20th century was for “American ‘golfese.'”