What’s a listicle?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: listicle…

I’m not a morbid person. But following the deaths of my father, my father-in-law and my mother, I’ve taken more of an interest in end-of-life issues. Perhaps that explains why I appreciated the Arthur C. Brooks’ New York Times piece, To Be Happier Start Thinking More About Your Death.

I’ve done some meditation classes that also focused on death and I can report that thinking about the subject did not make me sadder, angrier or more frightened. If anything, it accomplished the reverse.

Brooks writes about how much of our short lives we all tend to waste — in places like the Internet — and in his reflection also offers up the wonderful word, listicle, now my word-of-the-week. Here’s how he uses it:

Millions have resolved to waste less time in 2016 and have already failed. I imagine some readers of this article are filled with self-loathing because they just wasted 10 minutes on a listicle titled “Celebrities With Terrible Skin.” 

As you undoubtedly know, a listicle is an article on the Internet presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list. The website Buzzfeed is infamous for them. In terms of etymology, the word is a combination of list and article but I like to see its origins differently.

I like the way the word reminds me of popsicle — something sweet and utterly non-nutritious as well as something that will melt and disappear in just a few minutes.