The D Word

(Apologies in advance for the meta-profanity.)

The most recent appearance of the D-word on my radar, from Merlin Mann’s new post at 43 Folders, Photography, and the Tolerance for Courageous Sucking, in which his internal monologue tries to undercut his new hobby:

“Oh, Jesus. Really?” some voice whined. “Now you’re That Guy? Can’t you just walk out there like a grownup, retrace your steps, and be back here in 5 goddamned minutes? You really need to drag your giant, douchey camera out for a four-block walk? Who’re you now, freakin’ Diane Arbus? Jeez, get a life.”

“Douchey?” When I was in high school, if you used that word as your expletive of choice that was a pretty good indicator that you were somebody I wanted nothing to do with, but now it looks like that simple litmus test is a thing of the past. Not only does Merlin Mann (who I like) use it, but Jon Stewart (who I like) uses it as a comedic crutch (if recent episode of The Daily Show are any indication).

So are they words on the rise, or has my brain decided (totally against my will) to pick them out of the air? A little research…

Google Trends has “douche” marginally on the rise as a search term:

… but I’m wondering about word frequency in text, not in people’s searches. I assume search frequency is more driven by legitimate need and preteens looking up naughty words rather than any linguistic prevalence. Although what’s up with that big spike in late 2004? Anyway, the “news reference volume” is a more what I’m looking for, so off to Google News which gives me a timeline of the actual word usage (as opposed to search usage):

Looks like a spike to me, especially if you contrast with “fuck”, which is the model of a fully saturated cuss word:

Fuck can stay, but I’m already tired of douche. I’m hoping it’s a fad.