Word of the Day / Narcoman

Despite its superhero-sounding name, this term actually refers to someone hooked on drugs.

Shoshana Kordova
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Narco Man sounds kind of like he could be an ill-conceived attempt by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to create a superhero who makes it look cool to be a DEA agent or undercover cop, kind of like a cartoon version of Johnny Depp on the TV show “21 Jump Street.”

But in Hebrew, as also in Czech, Danish, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak and Swedish, according to Wiktionary, “narkoman” (nahr-koh-MAHN) actually means “drug addict” or “junkie.”

If, like Johnny Depp, you’re more interested in the drug dealer than the addict, you’re looking for the “sokher samim,” with “samim” meaning “illegal drugs” (legal ones – in other words, medications – are called “trufot”).

And if you just want to talk about how drunk or stoned you were at that awesome party the other night, the word you’re looking for is “mastul” (mahs-TOOL), which comes from the Arabic.

In perhaps one of the most incisive questions of our time, Israeli news and entertainment website Nana (presumably borrowing material from English-language celebrity gossip) asked last year: Was Justin Timberlake, who had recently gone public with his pot-smoking habit, mastul when he went on David Letterman to promote his 2011 movie “In Time”? Naturally, gossip sites posted the, er, highlights of the Letterman episode to allow readers to judge for themselves.

To contact Shoshana Kordova with column suggestions or other word-related comments, contact her at shoshanakordova@gmail.com.

Narco Man sounds kind of like he could be an ill-conceived attempt by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to create a superhero.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik