It seems that actress Scarlett Johansson’s phone has been hacked, and her nude photos shared with the world.
You may have wondered about the title of this blog post — a word commonly used to describe tabloid-style “news” stories is lurid , which can mean “gruesome; horrible; revolting,” or simply, “glaringly vivid or sensational.” Websites that purport to show photos of famous people’s deaths are undeniably lurid. Made-up stories about Oprah having an affair with Nick Jonas (I just made that up!) are still a bit lurid.
Another word that seems apropos is salacious, meaning “lustful, lecherous, obscene.” I wouldn’t describe ScarJo’s leaked photos as salacious so much as I would describe other people’s interest in looking at them that way. As in, “Honey, stop being so salacious — shut down that celebrity website and come to dinner!”
A few other words on the “sexy” side of the GRE are lewd (inclined to, characterized by, or inciting to lust or lechery; lascivious) and lascivious (inclined to lustfulness; wanton). Lechery is defined in the dictionary as “unrestrained and promiscuous sexuality,” but in real life is always used in a “sexual harassment” way. A lecher is the sort of person you’d hope you don’t end up alone with in a subway car. Lewd, lascivious, lecherous and lecher are all pretty bad.
(Why would these ever be on the GRE? It seems unlikely that the test makers would write a question about anything lascivious, right? If you saw one of the above words, I would suspect it to simply be a wrong answer.)
A couple of less-terrible words are bawdy and ribald, near-synonyms that mean “indecent; lewd; obscene; coarsely mocking, abusive, or irreverent.”
She loved the bawdy humor in Wedding Crashers, but she didn’t appreciate the lascivious theater attendant who asked her after the movie if she wanted to “be a bridesmaid,” whatever that meant.
Bawdy and ribald tend to refer to “dirty jokes,” and aren’t nearly as negative as the above set of words. In fact, they could absolutely appear in a GRE sentence, as in:
While today we think of opera as ______, audiences of centuries past were more attuned to — and occasionally scandalized by — the bawdy humor and ______ scenarios.
The second blank clearly calls for something that means the same as bawdy — so, ribald would be a good match. The “while” at the beginning of the sentence means that the first blank goes in an opposite direction, so the first blank should contain a word that means “not bawdy” — something like staid, proper, conservative.
So, let’s address the TMZ article above. The photos were hacked by scofflaws? What on earth are those?
As you might guess, they are people who scoff at (that is, mock, jeer, or deride) the law! What a great word.
Scofflaw – a person who flouts the law, especially one who fails to pay fines owed; a person who flouts rules, conventions, or accepted practices.
Where do scofflaws belong? See this previous post about “hoosegow”.