And the Oscar Goes to... Award-worthy Words

The Academy Awards are a spectacle of fashion, fame and — oh yeah — movies! Whether you’re writing a screenplay or a ransom note, your vocabulary can be blockbuster stuff. Here’s a list of terms you’re most likely to hear on Oscar night.

And for more on Oscar Night words, read the full article here on our blog: We'd Like to Thank the Academy...
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definitions & notes only words
  1. academy
    an institution for the advancement of art or science
    Mr. Black won an Academy Award for best original screenplay.New York Times (Feb 16, 2017)
    Oscars winners always thank “the Academy,” which is far less of a mouthful than the full name: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Academy is a fancy word for an especially fancy school. A more widely used word is academic, which can apply to just about anything relating to schools. This phrase has an appropriately thinky origin: Academy was the name of Greek philosopher Plato’s school before broadening to refer to schools and learning in general.
  2. actress
    a female actor
    And it boasts the Oscar-winning actresses as leads and executive producers.Los Angeles Times (Feb 16, 2017)
    This is a subtly old-fashioned word, since society has overall moved away from obviously gendered words. In the history of English, there are many wacky words that are actress’ lost cousins, such as avengeress, cousiness, greengroceress, inventress, murdermongeress, pythoness, and revengeress. Language sure can be sexist and silly.
  3. blockbuster
    a very successful hit with widespread popularity and sales
    The Matt Damon-starring epic “The Great Wall” was meant to be a global blockbuster that energized moviegoers all over the world.Los Angeles Times (Feb 14, 2017)
    These days, blockbusters make over a billion dollars: a blockbuster is a movie, usually in some kind of action genre, that does excellent box office.
  4. celebrity
    the state or quality of being widely honored and acclaimed
    Celebrities from Hollywood jetted into town to join America’s top media as major news outlets tried to outdo one another with outlandishly lavish parties.Washington Times (Feb 7, 2017)
    This Latinate word involves people you may have heard about, even if you live under a whole bunch of rocks: famous folks. Celebrities come from not only movies but TV, pop music, politics, the internet, and any other launchpad to fame. Before celebrity referred to a person, it had the meaning of a general state: in that sense, celebrity is (and still is) the opposite of obscurity, a lonely place that has the coolest bands.
  5. cinema
    a medium that disseminates moving pictures
    As well as being popular in cinemas, popcorn is increasingly seen as a low-fat snack outside of the movie house.The Guardian (Feb 6, 2017)
    This is a fancy-schmancy word for everything related to movies, and it derives from cinematograph, as early motion picture projectors were called. Cinema sprouted from that mouthful, meaning a movie theater and then movies in general. The adjective cinematic can mean “movie-like” and is often applied to other art forms that are taking a page from the movies, like when a TV show feels like big screen stuff.
  6. couture
    high fashion designing and dressmaking
    And she is frequently recognized as one of the best-dressed stars in Hollywood, walking the red carpet in exclusive couture gowns.Los Angeles Times (Dec 2, 2016)
    This French word is highly associated with fashion, and fashion is a huge part of the Oscars, as endless blog posts and articles pore over what women (and men these days) wear on the red carpet. Couture originally referred to sewing, and dressmaking in particular, so the word hasn’t spread far: dresses are still a huge part of couture. The term is often found in the expression “haut couture,” which means French toast. Or high fashion. You might want to double-check that...
  7. debut
    appear for the first time in public
    John Donnelly, nominated for outstanding debut for a British writer for his film The Pass.The Guardian (Feb 13, 2017)
  8. entourage
    the group following and attending to some important person
    “I need my privacy now,” she said before her entourage of helpers left.Washington Post (Aug 22, 2016)
    An entourage is more than a TV show: it's any group of fawning friends and underlings.
  9. envelope
    a flat container for a letter or thin package
    Bloch held a stack of envelopes, as if he were at the Oscars, and began to run through the submissions.The New Yorker (Jan 22, 2017)
    This commonplace items takes on great importance during award shows, since they contain the hallowed name of the winner.
  10. escapism
    tendency to use fantasy to retreat from unpleasant realities
    Hollywood, having spent a century perfecting the art of escapism, is about to unveil its latest bit of magic.Washington Post (Mar 31, 2016)
  11. glamour
    alluring beauty or charm
    “The glitz and glamour of the entertainment world were just distractions.”Los Angeles Times (Jan 12, 2017)
  12. host
    a person who acts as master of ceremonies
    One familiar move for an awards show host is to poke fun at famous people in the audience.Los Angeles Times (Feb 11, 2017)
    Like talk shows and restaurants, awards shows have hosts. Oscars hosts try to be a little funnier than the restaurant kind.
  13. ingenue
    an actress playing an artless innocent young girl
    Though she still plays the ingenue on screen, Stone, 28, is every bit the sophisticate on the red carpet.Los Angeles Times (Feb 2, 2017)
  14. mogul
    a very wealthy or powerful businessperson
    The festival itself is a strange mix of ski bum and movie mogul.The Guardian (Nov 18, 2016)
  15. nominate
    propose as a candidate for some honor
    Last year, controversy erupted again after all of the nominated actors ended up being, for the second year in a row, white.New York Times (Feb 15, 2017)
    One of the most common award-show phrases is “It’s an honor just to be nominated…,” a phrase that can take the sting out of a potential or actual loss. To nominate is to name, and nominate has had similar meanings since the 1400s. Presidents do a lot of nominating: to their cabinet and the Supreme Court. But to be nominated doesn’t mean you’re on the Supreme Court or have an Oscar: it just means you’ve got a chance.
  16. paparazzo
    a freelance photographer who pursues celebrities
    Paparazzi milled about the sidewalk just footsteps away from the red carpet as celebrities and other guests, dressed for the occasion, posed for the cameras.Los Angeles Times (Oct 17, 2016)
    Cats hunt mice, dogs seek treats, and paparazzi—the plural form of this Italian word—stalk celebrities. These dubious photojournalists hound celebrities, dying for an opportunity to catch them unawares or even (gasp!) without makeup. They were already considered scummy even before their role in the death of Princess Diana. Not exactly a noble profession.
  17. presenter
    someone who presents a message of some sort
    A parade of models and celebrities walked the red carpet, including Iman, who filled in as a presenter for Lena Dunham, who fell ill.New York Times (Feb 9, 2017)
    Each award has one or two presenters, who list the nominees and announce the winner. One of the presenters usually says, “The envelope please…” to add to the drama.
  18. red carpet
    a strip of red carpeting laid down for dignitaries to walk on
    If the red carpet doubles as a popularity contest — and it does — celebrities win, hands down.New York Times (Feb 8, 2017)
  19. snub
    refuse to acknowledge
    At the time, Thompson was appearing in cinemas as the star of “Saving Mr. Banks,” for which she was notably snubbed at Oscar time.The New Yorker (Feb 7, 2017)
    At any award show there’s griping about who got snubbed: in other words, what deserving people and pictures were ignored. If an awesome performance wasn’t nominated, you could say the Academy snubbed the actor. Snubs happen all the time, even away from the bright lights and botoxed faces of Hollywood.
  20. statuette
    a small carved or molded figure
    No Oscar category really exists for the kinds of films Jackie Chan makes, either, and he was equally astounded to be receiving a statuette.Seattle Times (Nov 13, 2016)
    A statuette is a little statue. The -ette suffix is one of English's most reliable shrinking devices.

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