New Words of Mormon

In priesthood meeting this past Sunday the photographers collecting photos for the ward photo directory stood up and talked about their project, and suggested, several times, that the photos might end up on the “Blogosphere.” After the third mention of “Blogosphere,” I replied (so everyone could hear):

“In the Church we call it the “Bloggernacle.”

To my surprise, “Bloggernacle” drew gaffaws from the entire room, as if I had invented the term there and then as a joke of some kind.

It is no real surprise, I suppose, that most Church members have never heard of the term “Bloggernacle.” The audience for Mormon blogs is still rather small, compared to the number of active LDS Church members, so terminology that is really only used among bloggers isn’t spread among the broader Mormon culture, let alone the national culture.
“Bloggernacle” is just one of many new terms I’ve heard of in recent years. We have a lot of terms, and it seems like we get new ones each year. And the terms have become more specifics to various parts of the culture. The Internet has, of course, been one of the more prolific sources of new words in the last decades.
Off the top of my head, it seems like Mormon culture’s sources of new words are perhaps a little different than the US culture as a whole. Where US culture depends a lot on popular media for new terms (along with academia, which is the principal source of more technial terms), we don’t have popular media that creates, defines and divulges new terms. We do have General Conference.
It seems to me like many of the new terms we have seen in recent decades come directly from General Conference and from the speeches and writings of General Authorities, especially those of the prophet. Examples? How about “Lengthen Your Stride” or “Faith in Every Footstep” or “Standing for Something”?
Terms also come from mormon culture (think “Molly Mormon” and “Saturday’s Warrior”) and even from the Church bureaucracy’s names for programs and functions (not only names like “Beehive” and “MiaMaid,” but also “Physical Facilities Representative” and “Agent Bishop.”). I think the increasing influence of the Internet has even led to anti-Mormon slurs being more available (ever heard of the “Morg”?).
I haven’t yet had a chance to look through this past General Conference for new terms or phrases — and I admit that they don’t come along every conference. Nor do I follow the Bloggernacle religiously enough to see the new phrases that arise there. So in January I asked on the AML list for recent terms, and learned of the following terms:
  • Morthodox – Orthodox Mormon
  • Moho – Mormon homosexual
  • ex-Mo – Former Mormon
  • TBM – True Blue Mormon or True Believing Mormon
  • Morg – a derogatory term confounding Mormons or the LDS Church with Star Trek’s Borg, connoting that Mormons are mindless drones.
  • Cymorgs – similar to “Morg,” but confounding Mormons with cyborgs or robots.
  • Morpologist – Mormon Apologist
  • Motrix – a play on the Matrix movies, connoting how Mormon culture is an artificial world in which what you believe doesn’t reflect reality.
Of course, these are all terms coming from the Internet, and they seem to perhaps be biased toward the anti-Mormon terms. I’d love to see what terms have arisen in other areas.
What have you seen?

17 thoughts on “New Words of Mormon”

  1. Here’s one:

    DAMU (Disaffected Mormon Underground)

    It’s a community of those disaffected with, outside of, or struggling with Mormonism. They aren’t a part of the bloggernacle really, although some of the blogs are loosely associated and their members are often aware of what’s going on in the bloggernacle (the two communities often share bloggers and especially commenters). It draws on ex-Mormons, a few anti-Mormons, and active Mormons who are currently in the process of negatively re-examining their faith, including….

    NOMs (New Order Mormons)

    These guys have their own blog by the same name. Basically, it’s Mormons who no longer believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet, or that the Church is currently guided by divine revelation, etc. but still want to participate in Church for social, family, and even spiritual reasons. They claim they even have a few actively serving bishops in their ranks.

    Most of your terms listed in the original post hail from the lingo of the DAMU and they are all meant to be derogatory. As such, they rarely get used on the bloggernacle – except for “ex-Mo,” which pops up now and again.

  2. Seth R. got the terms correct.

    I consider myself a “NOM” although I only attend so that my wife doesn’t have to sit with our 2 year old by herself.

    NOMs come in different flavors, because some still attend church because they like the social community. I only go to support my wife.

  3. One I’d like to see used more often is Ydaho, as a shorthand for BYU-Idaho. :o) I remember hearing that used by a friend a few years back and have been promoting it ever since.

    The terms used in the “Bloggernacle” and elsewhere are an intersting phenomenon–thanks for pointing it out and hopefully making this a resource for all newcomers to be able to navigate this strange new world.


  4. One thing I find interesting about your post is how few people in your Sunday School–if any–had ever heard of the Bloggernacle. I think those of us who are involved with Mormon blogging get caught up in it and don’t realize what a tiny minority we’re in.

    (Relating this to the LDS arts, I think that LDS authors currently spend far too much effort marketing their books around the Bloggernacle. I’m always surprised by what a negligible impact even the most aggressive internet marketing has on mainstream LDS book sales.)

    That said, I think it will be an entirely different story even five or ten years from now. Our relief society (I live in a very young ward) just started a collaborative blog open to all the sisters in the ward, and I imagine things like will become increasingly common. But, for now, it seems like Mormons are a little behind the trend on blogging.

  5. Interestingly, the term “permablogger” is an invention of the Bloggernacle and is not used in the wider blogging world. Do a Google search on it and you’ll see.

  6. I didn’t know that Dave. That is interesting.

    Personally I can’t stand the terms ‘bloggernacle’ or ‘blogosphere’ and refuse to use either.

  7. My favorite term is Mormo-American (coined by Michael Austin — or at least his work is where I first encountered it). Nobody uses it and it is kind of stilted, but I like it.

  8. I happened onto the website where the creater of that YouTube series identifies himself as a “Forman,” or a “former Mormon.”

    Did anybody mention “NoMo” meaning prett much the same things as “Forman?”

  9. “moron” is also generically used as a replacement for “Mormon” in some corners of the anti-Mormon and ex-Mormon worlds.

  10. Don’t forget that now that communication is written down on the internet, that people spell the word “Mormon” by capitalizing the letters like this: “MORmON”, which is a derogatory way of pointing out the word “moron” embedded in the word.

  11. Reading all these, I’m now wondering if perhaps I’m wrong. Is Mormonism just the muse for anti-Mormon linguistic creativity?

    Ydaho is great – that’s more a Mormon creation. And the “permablogger” thing is fascinating — it seems like kind of an obvious word given “permalink” — a neologism used frequently on blogs (including on this one).

    Still, I’d love to see something from more traditional sources.

  12. [Wm edits the comment and says: I don’t take kindly to comment spam. If you have a product/site that you think deserves mention on A Motley Vision — and would be of interest to our readers — pitch me in an e-mail.]

  13. My college friends and I tried to popularize the term rexbourgeois. We mostly just succeeded in making a few people in the room chuckle and the rest of them look at us quizzically. It’s a necessary addition to the language, though. What other adjective could properly modify tole painting?

    I’ve also heard the terms Udaho and Utard used among church youth of the not-from-Utah variety. Utard is only mildly derogatory, and only usually used for friends who have decided to move south. “What? You’re going to UVSC? I should have known you’d become a Utard.”

    Oh, that also reminds me of a bit of Provo trash talk that a friend of mine was caught using: referring to the “Other University” as UVSCHS.

  14. I dislike all these Bloggernacle lingo terms, including “Bloggernacle.”

    I think they’re often used simply to sound hip. And when groups use these terms a ton in a very in-group way (such as Mormons), it makes us sound silly and off-putting.

    Imagine what it’s like for a visitor at one of our meetings to hear repeated acronyms such as FHE, PEC, D&C, etc. Honestly, people, let’s make a greater effort to communicate in a more enticing way…

  15. Dennis:
    You’re right that insider lingo can exclude others. BUT it also has its purpose. No one coined the term “Bloggernacle” to exclude those that aren’t participants, or even to sound hip. And in the Church we don’t use FHE, PEC, D&C, etc. to make others feel like outsiders. We use these terms because the have a role and a function that can’t be met as easily with the words we have available. Without “Bloggernacle” we would have to say something like “Mormon Blogosphere” or “All the Mormon Blogs” or something.

    Every group creates these terms — they are an element of the group’s own culture. If you remove these terms, the culture is weaker. It is true that not all of these terms are as valuable as others. Some are laden with negative attitudes that we probably don’t want in our culture. Others are simply not that useful, or are tied to things that aren’t permanent (I can see the Church eliminating PEC in favor of some other meeting, and the term PEC would then eventually be replaced. This has already happened with terms like Gleaners and M-Men). But in the end, we need at least some of these terms for the development of Mormon culture.

    Why do we need Mormon Culture? I already addressed that in my post
    Why we need Mormon Culture

  16. Dennis, I agree that LDS, along with just about everybody else, ought to seek to communicate with those involved in the culture and with others not involved in more engaging ways. Many of the terms Kent’s exploring need held up for scrutiny, which is what this post does. I’m interested in seeing those expressing dislike for Mo-terms like “bloggernacle” being more specific about why they feel so strongly about them.

    Many of these words, like “permablogger,” “bloggernacle,” seem garden variety word play such as occurs in any group having some fun with its in house language. Maybe it’s telestial kingdom level creativity, but it’s still creativity. I think such words are more than a little tongue-in-cheek and giggle at themselves.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s