There ought to be a word for “a familiar phenomenon you didn’t know had a name.” I’d been thinking about the concept for a few weeks, ever since two friends, on separate occasions, expressed puzzlement over the word paywall. Sure, they’d encountered subscriber-only websites or articles. But they hadn’t known there was a special word to describe the “pay or leave” block. (For the record, paywall has been documented in print since at least 2004, according to the OED. It was coined in imitation of firewall.)
I had my own “There’s a word for that?” moment last week when my copyeditor pal Andy Behr asked me whether I’d heard of scrollytelling, a word that had come up in a staff meeting she’d attended (virtually, of course). “I think it has something to do with those fancy online stories where nifty bells and whistles unfold as you scroll down,” Andy said.
A facsimile of one of the Dead Sea Scrolls (408 BCE - 318 CE). Image via Facsimile Editions