Slang City Mail

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January 19, 2006
Slang of the Week: whale tail (noun)
the top of a woman’s thong underwear, showing above her pants

Example:
Gene didn’t see much wildlife on the Cape Cod nature tour, but he enjoyed many whale-tail sightings among the teenage girls on the trip.

Celebrity quote:
“Web sites began to chronicle bad celebrity thong moments. (‘Ginger Spice in a fiery red thong with the tag hanging out -- CLASSY!’ reads a caption on whale-tail.com.)”
-Alex Kuczynski in the New York Times

In this article on women’s undergarments from 2004, Kuczynski predicted that thongs were on the way out, to be replaced by larger and more modest panties. He supported his theory with a quote from lingerie icon Adam Lippes, who said “[Women] got sick and tired of seeing string hanging out of the top of every celebrity's jeans. It's just gross.”

But apparently not gross enough, because the word for the phenomenon is still in the press. Every year, the American Dialect Society (ADS) votes on the important and influential words of the day. Over a year after the tiny underwear was declared dead by the Times, whale tail was voted the “most creative” word of 2005.

Another wardrobe horror, muffin top, came in third in that category, after flee-ancée, the humorous title given to Jennifer Wilbanks. As you may remember, Wilbanks ran away from her own wedding last spring, but told people she had been kidnapped.