Hi, SE readers. Joan here. I thought we’d do something fun today and talk about words.
Over the years, our use of language has evolved. Thank goodness we no longer use seventeenth century English with words like thee, thou, or shouldst. These days we’re much more casual in our conversations. For instance, how often do you order a vegetable burger? You order a veggie burger.
The last few years these words have sprung up: SCOTUS, POTUS, and FLOTUS. These are actually acronyms for Supreme Court of the United States, President of the United States, and First Lady of the United States.
I never used the entire term, but I still stay Supreme Court, President, and First Lady. Evidently, some people are too casual (or perhaps too lazy) to use these terms. It takes just as much effort to use the acronyms as it does to say the word.
Merriam-Webster recently added over 1,000 new words to their dictionary. A few of these are:
- Seussian – of, relating to, or suggestive of Dr. Seuss
- Conlang – an invented language (Tolkien invented languages when he wrote Lord of the Rings)
- Face-palm – to cover one’s face with the hand as an expression of embarrassment
Technology plays a big part in the growth of language or added definitions of words. My 1982 Funk & Wagnall’s has the word “web” but nowhere in the definition does it refer to the world-wide web. Incidentally, Internet isn’t listed in this edition, although I recently learned the word was coined in 1974. Where we once used software programs, (still do) with the onset of new devices such as smartphones (something that wasn’t heard of a few years ago), we use apps.
Computers and technology have given us words such as net neutrality, abandonware, and botnet. Devices enable us to binge-watch movies and videos and photobomb someone as they snap a photo with their phone.
Teenagers have always had a language of their own. Some of the words or phrases popular over the years are groovy, right on, dig it, far out, and cool. Even those have changed. My teenage nephew tells me “epic” is what teens use today to describe something spectacular.
What happened to the phrase, “You’re welcome?” Often when I’m in a restaurant and thank the server for refilling my drink, they will reply, “No problem.”
And then there are words which we don’t often use anymore. Some are considered archaic. A few are:
- Hornswoggle – bamboozle or hoax
- Skullduggery – underhanded or unscrupulous behavior
- Dastardly – cowardly or characterized by underhandedness or treachery
- Rapscallion – rascal or ne’er-do-well
- Baseborn – of low birth or social standing
- Accouchement – birthing
In these days of instant access, hot topics are known to be “trending.” According to Webster’s, there are also trending words. The most popular ones on March 26 were:
- Ignominious – marked or characterized by disgrace or shame
- Vindicate – to set free or deliver
- Interpretate – an archaic variant of interpret
- Gravamen – the material or significant part of a grievance or complaint
- Transom – a transverse piece in a structure
As you can see, language is ever-changing and ever-evolving. It’s impossible to keep up with all the new words. I don’t know about you, but I’m thankful for modern technology and the dictionary app on my smartphone.