WORD LISTS

And the Oscar Goes to... Award-worthy Words

February 16, 2017
The Academy Awards are a spectacle of fashion, fame and — oh yeah — movies! Whether you’re writing a screenplay or a ransom note, your vocabulary can be blockbuster stuff. Here’s a list of terms you’re most likely to hear on Oscar night.

And for more on Oscar Night words, read the full article here on our blog: We'd Like to Thank the Academy...
academy
Oscars winners always thank “the Academy,” which is far less of a mouthful than the full name: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Academy is a fancy word for an especially fancy school. A more widely used word is academic, which can apply to just about anything relating to schools. This phrase has an appropriately thinky origin: Academy was the name of Greek philosopher Plato’s school before broadening to refer to schools and learning in general.
Mr. Black won an Academy Award for best original screenplay.
actress
This is a subtly old-fashioned word, since society has overall moved away from obviously gendered words. In the history of English, there are many wacky words that are actress’ lost cousins, such as avengeress, cousiness, greengroceress, inventress, murdermongeress, pythoness, and revengeress. Language sure can be sexist and silly.
And it boasts the Oscar-winning actresses as leads and executive producers.
blockbuster
These days, blockbusters make over a billion dollars: a blockbuster is a movie, usually in some kind of action genre, that does excellent box office.
The Matt Damon-starring epic “The Great Wall” was meant to be a global blockbuster that energized moviegoers all over the world.
celebrity
This Latinate word involves people you may have heard about, even if you live under a whole bunch of rocks: famous folks. Celebrities come from not only movies but TV, pop music, politics, the internet, and any other launchpad to fame. Before celebrity referred to a person, it had the meaning of a general state: in that sense, celebrity is (and still is) the opposite of obscurity, a lonely place that has the coolest bands.
Celebrities from Hollywood jetted into town to join America’s top media as major news outlets tried to outdo one another with outlandishly lavish parties.
cinema
This is a fancy-schmancy word for everything related to movies, and it derives from cinematograph, as early motion picture projectors were called. Cinema sprouted from that mouthful, meaning a movie theater and then movies in general. The adjective cinematic can mean “movie-like” and is often applied to other art forms that are taking a page from the movies, like when a TV show feels like big screen stuff.
As well as being popular in cinemas, popcorn is increasingly seen as a low-fat snack outside of the movie house.
couture
This French word is highly associated with fashion, and fashion is a huge part of the Oscars, as endless blog posts and articles pore over what women (and men these days) wear on the red carpet. Couture originally referred to sewing, and dressmaking in particular, so the word hasn’t spread far: dresses are still a huge part of couture. The term is often found in the expression “haut couture,” which means French toast. Or high fashion. You might want to double-check that...
And she is frequently recognized as one of the best-dressed stars in Hollywood, walking the red carpet in exclusive couture gowns.
debut
John Donnelly, nominated for outstanding debut for a British writer for his film The Pass.
entourage
An entourage is more than a TV show: it's any group of fawning friends and underlings.
“I need my privacy now,” she said before her entourage of helpers left.
envelope
This commonplace items takes on great importance during award shows, since they contain the hallowed name of the winner.
Bloch held a stack of envelopes, as if he were at the Oscars, and began to run through the submissions.
escapism
Hollywood, having spent a century perfecting the art of escapism, is about to unveil its latest bit of magic.
glamour
“The glitz and glamour of the entertainment world were just distractions.”
host
Like talk shows and restaurants, awards shows have hosts. Oscars hosts try to be a little funnier than the restaurant kind.
One familiar move for an awards show host is to poke fun at famous people in the audience.
ingenue
Though she still plays the ingenue on screen, Stone, 28, is every bit the sophisticate on the red carpet.
mogul
The festival itself is a strange mix of ski bum and movie mogul.
nominate
One of the most common award-show phrases is “It’s an honor just to be nominated…,” a phrase that can take the sting out of a potential or actual loss. To nominate is to name, and nominate has had similar meanings since the 1400s. Presidents do a lot of nominating: to their cabinet and the Supreme Court. But to be nominated doesn’t mean you’re on the Supreme Court or have an Oscar: it just means you’ve got a chance.
Last year, controversy erupted again after all of the nominated actors ended up being, for the second year in a row, white.
paparazzo
Cats hunt mice, dogs seek treats, and paparazzi—the plural form of this Italian word—stalk celebrities. These dubious photojournalists hound celebrities, dying for an opportunity to catch them unawares or even (gasp!) without makeup. They were already considered scummy even before their role in the death of Princess Diana. Not exactly a noble profession.
Paparazzi milled about the sidewalk just footsteps away from the red carpet as celebrities and other guests, dressed for the occasion, posed for the cameras.
presenter
Each award has one or two presenters, who list the nominees and announce the winner. One of the presenters usually says, “The envelope please…” to add to the drama.
A parade of models and celebrities walked the red carpet, including Iman, who filled in as a presenter for Lena Dunham, who fell ill.
red carpet
If the red carpet doubles as a popularity contest — and it does — celebrities win, hands down.
snub
At any award show there’s griping about who got snubbed: in other words, what deserving people and pictures were ignored. If an awesome performance wasn’t nominated, you could say the Academy snubbed the actor. Snubs happen all the time, even away from the bright lights and botoxed faces of Hollywood.
At the time, Thompson was appearing in cinemas as the star of “Saving Mr. Banks,” for which she was notably snubbed at Oscar time.
statuette
A statuette is a little statue. The -ette suffix is one of English's most reliable shrinking devices.
No Oscar category really exists for the kinds of films Jackie Chan makes, either, and he was equally astounded to be receiving a statuette.

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