Proposed New Vocabulary Involving the Word “Right”


Example: you stop in somewhere to order a cup of coffee on your way to work, the person behind the counter asks, “Would you like the Pike Place Custom Blend or the Dark Rwandan Roast?” and you reply “Rwandan Roast” in a crisp and confident manner not because you care or even believe there to be a difference but because it’s easier for everyone in that moment if you pretend that you do.


Basically decent people whose job it is to bear the brunt of the anger their employers incite. The classic example would be people working the phones for a medical insurance company that tries to weasel out of paying every claim that it can. The people calling in don’t have a beef with the phone staff, but that’s who they get to talk to so that’s who they have to bully and cajole to get satisfaction. The rightfodder’s refrain is (legitimately) “I’m just doing my job.” What’s particularly cruel about their plight is that it’s not just a plot by higher ups to evade responsibility: there simply aren’t enough insurance execs to man the phones. PR flacks don’t count as rightfodder because they know what they signed up for. Are cops rightfodder? Often, I’l bet, but isn’t it nice to have a term that allows us to frame that question so succinctly?


Adjective describing a situation in which the distinction between left and right is meaningless without explicit mention of a reference point. Canonical examples of ambiright contexts are being onboard a ship or giving theatrical directions. These contexts are usually navigated with the aid of custom vocabulary: “port”, “starboard”, “stage left”, “stage right”. Can be metaphorically extended to disagreements where the correct answer is more subjective than common wisdom would hold. Here’s a joke that works by conflating ambiright’s literal and metaphorical senses: a libertarian and a social conservative are having an argument about who is the true champion of the right wing and the libertarian says, “My right or your right?”

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2 Responses to Proposed New Vocabulary Involving the Word “Right”

  1. One ambiright example I find oddly fascinating is the automated announcement on the Link trains that says, “now arriving at (station name), doors to my (right|left).” It’s much more succinct than saying “doors to your right if you’re facing in the direction the train is moving,” but it’s a little odd in that it personifies the disembodied, synthesized voice of the train’s PA system.

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