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Wimps and weenies, or if not, what?

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MaryWitzl

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I have a 13-year-old protagonist who uses the word 'wimp' to describe someone who lacks courage. My daughter claims that this is absolutely NOT what a kid his age would say, but of course she cannot tell me what IS. Does anybody out there know what the current American (preferably East Coast) teen term for wimps and weenies is?
#1 - February 03, 2013, 07:21 AM

A great resource is urbandictionary.com

Be advised, there are, um...many strong, colorful words there so if you (or anyone) is easily offended you might want to skip it.

I went and put wimp in the search field. Right along the side it has "see also" which gives some other words. There's also a time-stamp on each entry so you can see how far back the word goes and if it's still used.

It might help.
#2 - February 03, 2013, 07:43 AM

MaryWitzl

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Thank you, LEFalcone--I'd forgotten all about Urban Dictionary. (I've grown used to strong words here in Scotland, where the C word is used as a term of endearment.) :/
#3 - February 03, 2013, 07:45 AM

MaryWitzl

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And I'm back to square one: daughter says 'wussy' and 'pansy' aren't the right words either, and I cannot use any of her suggestions as I am sure they would not pass the censors.

Big sigh...
#4 - February 03, 2013, 07:49 AM

Thank you, LEFalcone--I'd forgotten all about Urban Dictionary. (I've grown used to strong words here in Scotland, where the C word is used as a term of endearment.) :/

I've met a lot of UKers on line and yes, the C word does seem to be a term of endearment. :)
#5 - February 03, 2013, 08:04 AM

Could you say something like this through internal dialogue..and everyone knows what that makes you...or...yeah, and we both know what they call you on the school bus.   :-\  Maybe these words won't help...but maybe they'll get your brain fired up and you'll think of the perfect ones yourself.  Sometimes, implied thoughts can be powerful because the readers will mentally supply the perfect words depending on their own age and location/region.   Good luck!
#6 - February 03, 2013, 08:08 AM
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Could you say something like this through internal dialogue..and everyone knows what that makes you...or...yeah, and we both know what they call you on the school bus.   :-\ 

Excellent suggestion!
#7 - February 03, 2013, 08:21 AM
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I dunno, Mary--my daughter is about to turn 13, lives on the east coast here, and I'm pretty sure she'd use the word wimp (way before she's use those other words you mentioned!).  Diary of a Wimpy Kid is (was?) SO popular, I'd think most kids would throw around "wimpy" pretty quick.  Or say someone was "kind of a chicken."  ?

I'd rather use a word that maybe had a slightly old-fashioned quality to it than pick something very trendy off Urban Dictionary that really might date your writing, you know?
#8 - February 03, 2013, 12:36 PM

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wimp, nerd, dork
#9 - February 03, 2013, 04:21 PM
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I'm in the southwest, but I could check with the 5th and 6th graders tomorrow and see what they all use.
#10 - February 03, 2013, 06:19 PM
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MaryWitzl

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Thank you, everybody, those are good suggestions. I think I'll ignore my daughter and go with 'wimp' on this one occasion; although talking around the word is a good way to avoid using a term that will brand my story, I think I need a word here. Even if 'wimp' manages to lose its teen cred between now and that distant date that my story will (fingers crossed) make it to print, I think it's the word I need. (No, I wouldn't go with a term I wasn't sure of--that's a surefire way to lose credibility!)
#11 - February 03, 2013, 10:26 PM

What about chicken? Or baby? Or, as an adjective instead of a noun, pathetic?

#12 - February 04, 2013, 06:19 AM
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The way teens and preteens change their slang, you could probably also make up a word or modify one: "wimpo" for example. It will be a timeless kind of slang because it's tied to your particular character in his/her particular place.
#13 - February 05, 2013, 08:59 PM
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Perhaps your character could make up his own term, something that would reflect him or one of his interests.
#14 - February 06, 2013, 10:10 AM

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I don't know what kind of vocabulary the character would have but maybe:

Spineless
weak or weakling
sissy
baby
it's tricky, but if used carefully the character might use the sexist terms "girl" or "girly"
sometimes people talk about "losing your man card"
I've heard a lot of people say someone has committed a violation if they do something perceived as not manly.
people shouldn't, and it is dangerous territory for a writer, but it is definitely still in the vernacular for someone to be called a homo, gay, or fag

Just some thoughts, take 'em or leave 'em.
Dave
#15 - February 06, 2013, 11:06 AM

MaryWitzl

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Thank you, everybody. These are all good suggestions. I've been relying heavily on 'weasel' (my character's own word), 'weenie,' and 'loser', but 'wimp' is back in the running whether my daughter likes it or not. It may soon be dated, but it's like 'cool': it's got a long history and I like its chances.
#16 - March 05, 2013, 12:20 PM

The ever-popular "loser"? Lightweight? I've heard "wuss" vs. "wussy." Mama's boy (or any reference to their mommy)?
#17 - March 05, 2013, 02:22 PM

The wife's a freshman teacher and her first call was 'baby' or 'chicken'. A 'grass fairy' also, but that was reserved for soccer players!
#18 - March 05, 2013, 03:00 PM

That or 'cream puff'.
My own favourite is 'a big jessie', but that is far more British!
#19 - March 05, 2013, 03:00 PM

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I still hear "gutless" from kids that age -maybe that would fit?
#20 - March 05, 2013, 03:03 PM
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