Spritz: To sprinkle, squirt, or spray. From German and Yiddish spritzen, to squirt. Both the verb (first recorded in 1917) and the noun (1935) are considered by the OED to be U.S. usages; the American pronunciation is usually spritz rather than the German/Yiddish shpritz.
Actress and "The View" co-host Whoopi Goldberg uses spritz in a new ad campaign created by Mindshare Entertainment for Poise, an 18-year-old Kimberly-Clark brand, to describe a condition she says one in three women share.* (The brand's website is 1in3likeme.com)
“They call it light bladder leakage, but I call it the spritz — you know what I’m talking about,” Goldberg said in a paid integration segment on "The View" in February. In the ads, Goldberg portrays a series of historical and fictional characters from Lady Godiva to "the Princess and the Pee," all kvetching about their moist misadventures.
According to a New York Times advertising column, Goldberg herself came up with spritz to describe what advertisers prefer not to call "incontinence."
“The spritz came directly from Whoopi,” said David Lang, president of the North America division of Mindshare. “The first day of shooting, we said the brand talks about light bladder leakage, and she said, ‘It’s not a leak, it’s a spritz. I talked to my mom the other night and she said it’s a spritz. We both think it’s a spritz.’ The spritz language is all Whoopi.”
TENA, a Poise competitor, also avoids the I-word, preferring "bladder condition." The TENA website offers a free DVD teaching "pelvicore exercises." (It also has an interactive bathroom-finder map for the United States and Canada.)
Spritz was first used in a bartending context in 1935, according to the OED ("Light wine..often..possesses that natural sparkle or spritz that is so attractive in the Moselle wines"). Spritzer (German: a splash; English: a mixture of wine and soda water) entered the lexicon in 1961.
* Nitpicky copyediting note: The Poise website says "share in common," which is redundant. It's either "share" or "have in common."
“The spritz came directly from Whoopi.” He said it, not me.
Posted by: WIIIAI | April 05, 2010 at 10:33 AM
>Both the verb (first recorded in 1917) and
>the noun (1935) are considered by the OED
>to be U.S. usages
Isn't it generally true that borrowings from Yiddish are primarily US usages? I might just be imagining this.
Posted by: mike | April 05, 2010 at 08:19 PM
@Mike: True, although I can think of a couple of Yiddish borrowings that are primarily used in the UK: frimmer (a religious person) and shemozzle (an uproar). And it's possible that spritz is a German borrowing--none of my sources specified.
Posted by: Nancy Friedman | April 05, 2010 at 08:38 PM