Jonestown Finds Way Into American Slang

Even as the expression “drinking the Kool-Aid” has become firmly established in the national lexicon, other phrases with their origins in the Jonestown tragedy are beginning to take root. As noted in the 2010 edition of the jonestown report, the slang term “Jonestown defense” has been coined to mean a company’s “[d]efense against a corporate takeover in the form of a poison pill so strong that it threatens the survivability of the target company.” The phrase has picked up traction in recent years, with entries in various online financial dictionaries, including, as well as its own Wikipedia page.

The word “Jonestown” as a standalone – sometimes capped, sometimes not – also continues to pick up and shed definitions. A recent addition for “jonestown” noted in the Urban Dictionary, seemingly with only a passing acknowledgment of its root, is as “the mythical place people say they are when they are in need of a fix.” Other definitions at the site do include references to the 1978 tragedy.