It can be funny how words creep their way into our daily lexicon. Somehow, some way, new words sprout up in our conversations over time. It could be through osmosis via TV, movies, music, the internet… or even the antiquated practice of actually speaking with someone face-to-face (wild concept, I know!). But do you ever take a step back after hearing or using a particular word and ask yourself, “When did that become a thing?” I know I have.
That’s why the Merriam-Webster Time Traveler tool is so cool.
In the last decade, we’ve seen words like (join me in a collective grimace here) “selfie,” “bro-ey,” “adorbs” and “subtweet” become official entries into the dictionary thanks to their frequent use. We all know Webster’s Dictionary as the classic reference tool that’s been used since 1828. But with the Time Traveler tool, it now offers a brief glimpse into what times were like over a particular stretch of years—a sort of time capsule.
The years 1994 through 1998? “Digital versatile disc,” “cyberterrorism,” “spyware,” “big data” and “cyberbullying” were all made official, indicating the digital age that was fast on its way.
What about one of the most iconic eras in American history, 1965-1970? We were given words like “lava lamp,” “acidhead,” “counterdeployment” and “Agent Orange”—signs of the growing hippie movement and national discourse surrounding the Vietnam War.
What will the words made official in this era say about our time and place in pop culture? Let’s check back in a decade or two.
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