Tastemaker: Worst Neologism of All Time?

I loathe the word. At the risk of completely butchering classic Woody Allen, loathe is too weak a word for what I feel—I lurthe it, you know, I loave it, I loff it, two F’s. And I’m not exactly sure from whence the venom emanates. It’s often thrown around the publishing industry—by nice, articulate people with lexicons of gold, even—to suggest someone ahead of the curve, someone with vision, someone who’d never use the word themselves. Full disclosure: I’ve even used it, unironically, in a moment of weakness. In trying to figure out why “tastemaker” leaves such an nasty, er, taste in my mouth, I came across a glut of reasons.

First, it’s not even a widely recognized word, and it doesn’t even make sense. People might as well say Graughzd, and add in a bunch of pretentious umlauts for good measure. Then there are the people who use it to describe themselves, people who would probably also refer to themselves as special or yar. The arbiter of the Tastemaker Society on MySpace writes, “Im [sic] a regular at every club, party, and social event… You may ask my name and I simply reply Tastemaker.” Never. Then, on the first page of my Google search for the word, I found an article on the recently deceased wine icon Robert Mondavi, in which he is described as a “tastemaker.” Um, no, he was a wine maker. The list goes on and on, but it would be onanistic of me to continue. Plus, I’ve got taste to make.

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