Hey, SE Readers. Joan with you today. Since it’s summer, and a time to be a little more laid-back, I thought we might have a little word fun.

One of my earliest posts for Story Empire was titled “Words – Old and New.” I talked (wrote) about how we’d become more casual in our conversations, using acronyms such as SCOTUS, FLOTUS, and POTUS. I listed some “trending” words, new words, and a few antiquated words. If you’d like to read that post, click here.

Words, type setting

I thought it might be fun to compare new or trending words from 2017 until now. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find links on the Merriam-Webster site. However, I did find something that I thought was both fun and interesting. It’s called Time Traveler.

You can select the year you were born (or any year) to see when words were first used in print. The results might surprise you. Here’s a few that I would have never guessed.

  • FaceTime – 1999
  • World Wide Web and Internet service provider – 1990
  • DNA Fingerprinting – 1984
  • Medical marijuana – 1976
  • Universal product code – 1972  
  • Mitochondrial DNA – 1964
  • Trendsetting – 1935
  • Fuel injection – 1900

Some are predictable. For instance, 1968 saw the first printed usage of peace sign, peace symbol, and love beads. In 1967, there were words such as love-in, whacked-out, flower child, and spaghetti western. (Thank you, Clint Eastwood, for the last one.) Hippie was first used in 1965 as was minidress and teenybopper.

And there are others we wished we’d never heard of. I’ll just say virtually all of those for 2020 are ones I’d like to forget, and I won’t bother to name them here.

Want to go back even further? Try these for the thirteenth century—Ash Wednesday, bank, amendment, blacksmith, and dialogue. (Had to throw that last one in because we are, after all, writers.)

For all you caffeine addicts coffee dates back to 1598. Hungry? Try some pizza in 1825, pasta in 1827, or have some tetrazzini or Swiss steak in 1911. You could eat a hamburger or hot dog in 1884.

If you’d like to check it out for yourself, click this link. And if you’d like to share some of your surprise words, please leave a comment.

80 thoughts on “Words

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  5. Wouldn’t you know it? Writer’s Block first made the dictionary the year I was born. I had no idea so many modern words existed way back then! Who knew upward mobility was already a thing? This is such a fun post, Joan! Thanks for the links and the endless entertainment! I’m going to look up the words coined in my family’s birth years. It could take a while.

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  6. It is interesting to see how new words appear in our everyday language. I’d never heard the word “uber” until recently and “TikTok” used to be the sound of a clock. 🙂 Thanks for the time travel journey!

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  7. Great post, Joan 🙂 I find it fascinating to know when a word came into use. I am forever looking words up ro make sure they were in use in the time period I want to use them in. Some words surprise me when they came about and why.

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    • Denise, I remember when watching the 1993 film, “Last of the Mohicans,” Hawkeye used the word “ain’t.” I thought there was no way someone would use that word in the 18th century, but as it turned out that word is older than I thought. Even when writing in the recent past, some words we have today didn’t exist in the early 21st century.

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  8. Such an interesting topic, Joan! I love words and word origins, and these lists are right up my alley. I’ll definitely be referring to the link you provided to see what else I can discover. I’ll be especially interested in checking out what words were coined in 1944, the year I arrived on this planet. 😀 Super fun post! Sharing!

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    • Marcia, I thought about your “why write wrong” posts when putting this one together. Although this is a bit different, it’s easy to use a word that didn’t exist in the time frame of our stories. Have fun on the website!

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      • Very good point, Joan! That would be “writing wrong” for sure. And definitely something to remember if you write tales set in different eras. Mine are all within the last decade, but even with that, there are new words being coined every day. I’m going to keep that in mind. (If I ever find time to write again! 🙄 )

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    • Take a look at Staci’s list. Talk about a year! Sue, my mom used the word hissy fit a lot. I hadn’t thought about it until you mentioned it. But you know, I think you were born in a great year! 🙂

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  9. I really enjoyed this, Joan! I’ve looked my year up and I’m surprised at some of the terms – I’m part of the boomer generation and countdown, defibrillator, mass market, mother hen and scuba are there. More interesting, so are stoned and global warming. It would seem that the latter has been a factor for my entire life. Another term, perhaps of relevance, is plotline! Thanks.

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  10. What fun, Joan! I love your post. Full disclosure, some of the current words keep me reaching for Wikipedia. Even expressions like Generation X, Y, or Z. I’m forever questioning what age group they represent. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  11. What a fun site and a fun post, Joan. Like everyone else I had to check out my birth year. It turned up dystopian (never would have thought it was that old), superstud and trendy among others. There was also fish finger which I had to look up. Apparently it’s the British term for fish stick. Who knew, LOL?

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  12. I could lose hours on this site. My birth year gave us some gems. Biogas, bizarro, blood doping, catastrophe theory, cheap shot, day job, dominatrix, gonzo, hepatitis B, hired gun, HMO, jug wine, knackered (probably because of the jug wine), mental health day (probably because you can’t call off work knackered), minibar (for refrigerators too small for jug wine), performance art (the reason for the jug wine), sexual assault and sex worker (you have to think those terms were related), spit-take, tight-ass, underperform, and wiseass.

    There were a lot more (obviously) but those were some of the highlights. Well, lowlights. This was obviously not a good year for us. Loved this post, Joan.

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  13. Lots of surprises here. I never remember history in its rightful place, lols.
    I believe 2020 should be a swear word and banned, ha ha.

    I always love that so many of our bawdy words come from 17th-century playwrights; for example, Rake. (And not the gardening tool, tee he hee.)

    Great post, Joan. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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