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BoomerangstCNBC recently aired a program entitled Boomerangst about the trials and tribulations of the baby-boomers. For me it was love at first sight of the word boomerangst I love words with multiple analyses and this one is a world-class prize-winner.
The word was not original with the writers at CNBC. It was taken from the title of a wrenching, almost black comedy of a novel by Margo Phillips that was published in 2000. I love the word because, behind the straightforward analysis of this word, boomer-angst, lurks another, even more telling one: boomerang-st. If this word is used to refer to a phenomenon that came back to bite us, it is lexical jewel nonpareil.

I think it could be interpreted in this light. The baby boom after World War II was a key factor in the economic recovery not only of North American, but of Europe and the Far East, as well. American productivity shot up as these men returned to work while at the same time buying cars, buying and furnishing houses, and returning to colleges that made them even more productive.

But all the profit generated by the baby-boomers (I could do an article on this word, too) is, in fact, now boomeranging as we struggle with ways to meet our social security obligations to them. They are beginning to come out of the workplace and, as a result of the even greater productivity created by computers and robots, the are being replaced by fewer and fewer workers expected to shoulder the cost of their (the baby-boomers’) social security.

Because of its dual analysis, boomerangst can be used: (1) to indicate the angst of the baby-boomers in a weak job market and (2) the nation’s angst at the social security problem. In fact, because the two templates of this word merge, it is difficult to separate the two senses. Congratulations, Margo Phillips, for an intriguing entry, however ephemeral, in the English vocabulary.


2 Responses to “Boomerangst”

  1. Doug Shelton Says:

    Thank you for the information. I was born in 1954 and am a physician in a 5 piece band that plays classic rock and jazz. We are all baby-boomers with three teachers, an attorney and myself. We have struggled with a name for the band and I thought of Boomerangst as a name because much of our music deals with the angst of love, loss, lust, war, money, etc. Now I find the word has already been used from an economic viewpoint. I can’t help but say I am disappointed, of course for our band but also because I had felt the word would be better used to express “angst” in terms of feelings, dealing with conflict and the human condition rather than a financial, material struggle. I also liked the dual meaning of “boomerang” but I had thought of it more interms of the boomer angst of finding their identity in the world and now as our lives come to their end, the boomer angst again returning in finding what our lives really meant and how we are to deal with this. Also on another level, this is a boomerang in the world has now gone back to almost a Viet Nam atmosphere and we are again faced with these feelings. I don’t think I am going to pursue using the name though as the former meaning seems to have taken hold.

  2. rbeard Says:

    There is no reason not to use this word as the name of your band. Most groups take words and phrases that are in use from the langauge for their names: Genesis, Journey, Culture Club, Chicago, Spice Girls, Nirvana, U2. Boomerangst is just a fascinating word for containing “boom”, “boomer”, “boomerang”, and “angst”. I know of no other words that pack so many other words inside it.

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