WORD LISTS

Prom Time

May 18, 2017
Take heart! Even if your true beloved wouldn’t touch your face with a high-speed dodge ball, you can still have the pleasure of knowing more words than the prom king or queen. Unless they’re also good at words, in which case, there’s always next year. For more, check out:
chaperone
Does a bunch of unsupervised teenagers sound like a good idea? That depends who you’re asking, but if you’re asking a principal, they’ll say, “Nope.” Thus, the chaperone. This is an adult who attends the prom (or another dance) to make sure nothing terrible happens, like someone spiking the punch or brawling over who has the best dance moves. This word has a fancy origin: a chaperon was originally a hat worn by noblemen, and it comes from a French word for a hood.
Last Saturday, I chaperoned a dance at the university and Rufino spent the entire evening talking with me.
proposal
Promposal (a blend of prom and proposal) is a recently popular word for an old tradition: asking someone to the prom, but with a little added theatricality and hubbub. Promposal is a word blend, just like brunch (breakfast and lunch) and labradoodle (Labrador and poodle). The most famous sort of proposal is a marriage proposal, which has all sorts of traditions, some sweet and some creepy.
“What makes you think I’d accept your proposal?” she asked.
limousine
This type of car is defined by one trait: length. A limousine—often called a limo—is a loooooong car that’s also quite expensive and fancy-schmancy. Rich people, including CEOs, actors, musicians, and athletes, tool around town in limousines. A limo is also part of prom tradition, and friends often chip in for a limo to share on prom night. For one magical evening, high schools kids can feel like rich jerks. Excuse me, that was disrespectful: special rich jerks.
As soon as I got over there, and several hundred screaming people would follow me everywhere, outside my limousine, I’m like, this is ridiculous.
corsage
Prom is all about the clothes, including the accessories—the most famous being the corsage. This is a little arrangement of flowers about the size of your fist, and traditionally a fella pins a corsage to his gal. A corsage is a bouquet’s Mini-Me.
Two trains packed with glitzy commuters sporting corsages and boutonnieres departed for Union Station on Saturday evening.
stag
Like most words, this one has a few meanings, not all of which have anything to do with prom. A stag is a male deer, who is unlikely to receive a promposal, even in a Disney movie. But if you go stag, you show up at the prom without a date. This term, because of its male history, originally referred to dudes going it alone, but these days anyone can go stag—except actual woodland critters.
“Mom, do you really need pictures of me going to prom stag? I mean, hasn’t my life been humiliating enough?”
disco
Proms feature a mix of old and new music, but it’s a good bet that all proms from the 1970s until the umpty-70s will include a little disco: a type of catchy, bass-propelled music that made bands such as ABBA and the Bee Gees rich enough to afford limousines for their whole family, even the pets. Many folks have claimed to despise disco since the moment it arrived—or to only enjoy it ironically, like a so-bad-it’s-great horror movie. But disco is tough to dislike when you’re on the dance floor.
I grew up with two older sisters that listened to everything from rock to disco to funk to metal to punk.
tuxedo
The president wore a black tuxedo while the first lady was dressed in a long black evening gown.
committee
Now on the eve of the event, my committee members are dropping like flies.
girlfriend
I was afraid, however, that if I took the ring, Billy might start thinking that I had agreed to be his girlfriend.
gown
So often my eye is drawn to red-carpet gowns that are elaborately detailed, but how refreshing to see one that’s the simple picture of elegance.
decoration
She was talking with Doris and a few other girls who were on the decorations committee for the dance.
curfew
Sneaking out after curfew was against the rules, too.
beau
But she was not quite like other girls, and did not even have a beau.
chauffeur
Here’s another French word, found in English since around the turn of the twentieth century. If you took a limo to the prom, you probably hired a chauffeur: a professional driver, usually of a limousine. It would sound weird to call a cab driver a chauffeur, even though the job is similar.
How would she get home if her chauffeur didn’t wait around for her?
cummerbund
She’s in a tuxedo with a plaid bow tie and cummerbund like my character.
bodice
The bodice wrapped around her torso and the skirt was adorned with feathers.
boutonniere
Long blazers with peak lapels were adorned with a boutonnière and paired with cropped skinny trousers and worn with white sneakers.
gyrate
The rhythm was so infectious that Martinez stood up in the middle of his conga solo to gyrate his hips.

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