What’s my line, 2012 style

Some people know how to coin a memorable phrase.

Tom Brokaw referred to the men and women who fought for the United States in World War II as the greatest generation. In 1943 a Nazi propaganda periodical used the term Iron Curtain. Tea Party members often refer to journalists the media elite, a term coined by S. Robert Lichter and two other researchers in a 1980 study and subsequent book by that name. Former Vice President Spiro Agnew launched a salvo from White House speechwriter William Safire when he called the media “nattering nabobs of negativism.”

Then there’s the 1984 TV ad campaign for Wendy’s with Clara Peller yelling “Where’s the beef?” a refrain that might ring true in today’s politicized climate.

Not all pithy expressions involve cheap shots at journalists and competitors. Many encapsulate the issues like a good joke. The phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is attributed to Frederick R. Barnard, who published a piece in the early part of the 20th century on the effectiveness of graphics in advertising. The term senior citizen first appeared as a euphemism for older people during a 1938 American political campaign.

Richard Nixon referred to citizens who weren’t protesting against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War the silent majority. Plato said necessity is the mother of invention, a phrase that must have appealed equally to Nixon and Frank Zappa, although for different reasons.

Contemporary authors are doing an equally good job in characterizing trends. People who follow us on social networks are called peeps. People who follow us on Twitter are Tweeps. Microbloggers live in the Twitterverse.

PIMCO Bond fund manager Bill Gross has called the post-2007 mortgage debt environment of high volatility and low returns the New Normal. Writing for hospital administrators at H&HN Daily Bill Santamour called the wave of retiring baby boomers who will need healthcare the Silver Stampede. And there’s the term baby boomer itself, a term coined by Landon Jones in his book Great Expectations: America and the Baby Boom Generation.

What’s your favorite line?