Oxford Dictionaries has chosen ‘vape’ as 2014 word of the year. Originally the abbreviation of vapour or vaporize, the verb now means ‘to inhale and exhale the vapour produced by an electronic device or similar device’. Both the device and the action can be known as a vape. The associated noun vaping is also listed.
I vape. I am vaping. Let’s vape. He’s out, getting a vape.
According to Oxford Dictionaries, the use of ‘vape’ has, with the growing popularity of the e-cigarette, more than doubled compared to 2013. Thus, 2014 WOTY (word of the year, not the other one) is not budtender, contactless, photobomb, slacktivism, indyref, overshare, bae or normcore. No, it is vape.
And with it comes a whole language of vaping. Vape pen, vape shop, vape lounge, vape fluid, vape juice. The list probably goes on.
The post-coital vape.
Whether or not it embellishes or enriches the English language, vape is probably here to stay. The question now is, will ‘the vape’ acquire prop status? In other words, will it replace, even emulate the cigarette’s iconic status?
Bette Davis did not as much smoke as manage her cigarette. Held between her fingers, dangling from her lips, she used the cigarette as a tool with which she captivated and mirrored a mood.
She was not alone. Bogart and Bacall, Brando in his white T, James Dean and his cowboy hat, Audrey Hepburn and the cigarette holder, Uma Thurman waiting for John Travolta, … all of them rolling, lighting, smoking. An air of sophistication. Uber-cool. Detached. Erotic.
Smoking is bad. It is an addictive health hazard, the cause of many cancers for both smokers and non-smokers. Smoking ruins your teeth, fouls your breath. But despite vaping being marketed as a safe alternative to smoking, more and more data are emerging on the dangers of the e-cigarette. Apparently delivering high levels of nano-particles and emitting chemicals potentially as dangerous as cigarettes, the WHO even recommended in August 2014 that ‘vaping’ should be banned indoors.
Damaging for health, good for image?
We probably should not glamourize bad or potentially lethal habits, be it smoking, drinking or vaping. Probably. But Don Draper without a cigarette? The Dude without a White Russian? Walter White not cooking meth?
Vape is mainstream. It is also bland. Neat. The perfect example of ‘no smoke, no fire’. No ‘je ne sais quoi’.
So maybe all vape needs is a ‘je ne sais who’ to give it some cachet.
Or maybe not.
Barbarella smoked Essence of Man through a pipe, hooked up to a large hookah with a man swimming inside of it.