40 words for "next"

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This is from an actual job listing on BusinessWorkforce.com, advertising a position at the "marketing innovations agency" Ignited:

Integrated Copywriter/Etymologist
Sure, the Eskimos have 40 words for “snow,” but Ignited has 40 words for “next.” That’s because we’re kind of obsessed with what’s next, whether that be in technology or media or Eskimo etymology. If you’ve got that same kind of curiosity and you fit the bill of skills below, you may be the next person we think of when we hear the words “Integrated Copywriter.”

Actual etymologists need not apply.

(See links here and here for more on the much-abused "Eskimo words for snow" trope. Hat tip, Nancy Friedman.)


  1. Michael Moncur said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 1:55 am

    Okay, I've made it my personal mission to come up with all 40 words for "next".


    ummm… I'm stuck. Maybe there aren't really 40 words for "next".

  2. Mike said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 2:12 am

    Check out http://thesaurus.com/browse/next and start counting. And that misses various colloquial or jargon terms like "i++".

  3. Dierk said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 3:21 am

    If they have 40 words meaning exactly the same as 'next' why do they use use 'next' three times in such a short paragraph?

  4. maidhc said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 3:45 am

    Interestingly, Mike's link gives 39 synonyms, which, together with the original, makes 40.

    However, some of them are phrases, not words, e.g., "coming up".

    English has at least two words, "armpit" and "oxter", for the space underneath your arm, but there is no word for the space inside your elbow or the space behind your knee, although some languages do have words describing these areas. What cultural conclusion can we draw from the fact that English has no words for these concepts?

  5. Simon Cauchi said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 4:15 am

    I haven't seen the ad, but I suspect that the "bill of skills below", the qualities expected of the person to be appointed to the vacant post of "Integrated Copywriter", spell out the meaning of "next" so far as this firm is concerned.

    A nonce use, in other words.

  6. Army1987 said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 6:39 am

    @maidhc: AFAIK Italian has a word for 'armpit' and no single word for 'space inside your elbow' nor for 'space behind your knee', too.

  7. Baka said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 6:46 am

    Inside of elbow = inner elbow = antecubital fossa (if my memory for Anatomy 101 serves). Of course the first isn't one word exactly and the second isn't ordinary English exactly. I guess this shows that if people want to talk about inner elbows (and some people really do), they either use a phrase or a foreign expression thereby proving that Whorf was right–or wrong. I'm not sure.

    I suspect everyone is so familiar with GP's Eskimo snow thing that they now use it as a sort of joke.

  8. Jean-Sébastien Girard said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 7:14 am

    @maidhc: Just because they aren't in a single word and are less common doesn't mean "elbow pit" and "knee pit" are not expressions meaning exactly that.

  9. ribock said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 8:23 am

    @maidhc Knee pit or popliteal fossa. Wikipedia: "The popliteal fossa is a space or shallow depression located at the back of the knee-joint. The bones of the popliteal fossa are the femur and the tibia. Colloquially, it is referred to as a 'knee pit.'"

  10. John said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 8:59 am

    As far as I can recall, I tend to use "crook of [one's] elbow/knee" or "inner elbow/knee". There's this weird pseudo-Whorfian idea that anything a language doesn't have a single word or fixed phrase for is verbally inexpressible. That said, "elbow pit" and "knee pit" have a certain charm.

  11. xyzzyva said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 1:18 pm


    You forget krelbow.
    Sadly, I can't figure out what episode of Seinfeld that was from.

  12. Bob Calder said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

    I wasn't worried about anything so much as the use of "next" which I take to be off message for a company involved in technology and innovation.

    "Next" has been conceptualized once it is attached to something. Change is about process and partakes of discovery, which I feel is in keeping with the word innovation.

    So…if they hire someone obsessed with next, they will miss the person they really need who is obsessed with change.

  13. Mike Albaugh said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 5:53 pm

    Another Mike notes:
    jargon terms like "i++".

    and my inner pedant begs to point out that the C programming language (almost certainly the fount of that bit of jargon) would use "++i" to get the next value of 'i'. The location of the ++ makes a difference.

    Thus I was amused by the name "C++", or rather "Increase C, but use the old value" :-)

  14. Mike said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    Actually, "i++" means give I the next value, which is the use I was intending. If you just want the next value, most people would write "I+1" :-)

  15. Kylopod said,

    April 3, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

    I suspect everyone is so familiar with GP's Eskimo snow thing that they now use it as a sort of joke.

    It's probably a safe bet that everyone reading this knows it's a load of igloo-poo, but I've met plenty of people who still believe it in earnest.

  16. Ran Ari-Gur said,

    April 4, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

    @xyzzyva: I'm almost positive that's not from any episode of Seinfeld at all, but rather from an episode of Blossom.

  17. Graeme said,

    April 5, 2010 @ 1:27 am

    Never met someone with a smelly elbow/knee pit; that little olfactory fact may explain the linguistic one.

  18. Private Zydeco said,

    April 5, 2010 @ 1:49 am

    @maidhc – Hyphenation, as it were, either greatly simplifies or, by multiplying the number of "words" in the set, greatly complicates
    tabulation of synonym counts, e.g. "up-and-coming" for "next" or "new-and-improved" for ""better", to name only a couple.

  19. Private Zydeco said,

    April 5, 2010 @ 3:09 am

    The trouble here is that "word" and "term" are being used,
    somewhat equivocally, as synonyms for each other. Many
    terms are comprised of but a single word, but as for words
    consisting of multiple terms, agglutination & polysynthesis
    do come close to accomplishing, but don't quite fully ob-
    tain the same result.

    The missing link criterion betwixt long, multiply compound
    words in Latinate languages — and others cross-bred with
    them — and what are, in the case of North American Native
    Languages for example, phrasal strings acting as words in
    themselves in a way, is more than strictly acts of hyphen-
    ation and non-hyphenation, but misleading the proletariat
    on the nature of morphology and polysynthesis seems to be
    the genuine pianoforte of sensationalist snatch-reporting.

    There is a hint of knowingness in this advert, & its overall
    timbre resonates with a hint of the "crisis is opportunity"
    trope which Al Gore recently repopularized. "Next" is taken
    for meaning "in-the-know" "savvy" "in-the-queue-to-be-hired"
    "on-heel" "go-person" and scores of others, but "next" does
    not formally mean all of these, per se. Delving too deeply
    into the puh-sychology of it may end up being a snipe hunt
    of sorts, ipzho.

  20. Toma said,

    April 5, 2010 @ 8:52 am

    In America, we must have at least 40 words for shit. What does that say about us?

  21. Private Zydeco said,

    April 6, 2010 @ 11:45 pm

    Actually, one may be put in mind of "turn & burn",
    which, while being a dark analogy drawn perhaps
    foremost from the culinary sciences, is a slang
    temp-business term that denotes spectacularly
    high turnover rate coupled with a notion that hire/
    firees are little more than"expendable" — as with
    pastry, or cannon-fodder.

  22. oxlahun said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

    Another reference to words for snow:


  23. Ingeborg Norden said,

    October 3, 2011 @ 1:22 am

    For what it's worth, Swedish has a word (famn) for "space inside the arms", as in carrying/holding something; there's even an idiom stora famnen 'the big arms' for "a big hug". I know of no language outside the Scandinavian family that has a single-word expression for that arm-space…well, English can use ""arms" that way, but the holding space still isn't the primary meaning.

  24. Treesong said,

    June 12, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

    I'm surprised that in all the discussion of elbowpits and kneepits nobody brought up 'ham', which is common enough to be in collegiate dictionaries like New World's and Merriam-Webster's. In fact, 'the hollow of the knee' is the oldest meaning, hence the first definition in those two. And it's also present in 'hamstring'.

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