Aussie Life

Language

30 July 2022

9:00 AM

30 July 2022

9:00 AM

It was Will Self (writing in The Speccie) who drew my attention to the new word ‘uberise.’ He says he found it in the Larousse Dictionnaire, which offers the following definition (in French, helpfully translated by Will): ‘The challenging of an economic model by a new player offering the same services at lower prices, carried out by self-employed persons, most often via internet reservation platforms’. This new word is not yet listed by either the Oxford or the Merriam-Webster, but is in our own Macquarie Dictionary, which offers a rather puzzling (at first sight) definition: ‘to reshape (a business or organisation) into a disintermediated system’ –which defines a three syllable word by using a seven syllable word meaning you then have to look up ‘disintermediated.’ This is defined as ‘the removal of intermediates in a supply chain, seen as streamlining processes and decreasing costs.’ (Is that what we’re doing when we order an Uber on our phone?) The Collins Dictionary makes the same point more clearly: ‘to subject (an industry) to a business model in which services are offered on demand through direct contact between a customer and a supplier, usually via mobile technology’. All this comes from the successful Uber business model that almost wiped out the taxi industry. ‘Uber’ by the way is a German word meaning ‘over’ or ‘above.’ The company was launched in 2009 under the name Ubercab. Now it is a business model and has found a place in the dictionaries (well, some – the others will catch up).

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Contact Kel at ozwords.com.au

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