Oct. 16 is Dictionary Day, a day to reflect on the importance the institution of the dictionary plays in recording how we use the English language. To celebrate, Stacker grabbed a handful of newly minted words from the years they were coined, from 1920 to 2020. Their definitions come from Merriam-Webster Time Traveler site, except for the years 2012-13 and 2017-18.
Year after year, new words are coined as time, technology, world events, and fashions dictate—but fads are fickle. If the public interest wanes for a particular trend, or world events are relegated to a foggy past, many associated words will be lost and forgotten. Still, others remain as mainstays to our evolving language and how we use or misuse it. Every three months, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) evaluates the vernacular, adding new words, tenses, and subentries to the language that the dictionary’s lexicographers deem essential.
Words hold a fascination for all, from what they convey to the feelings and thoughts they evoke. Some may jog memories of incidents or events long past, while others forgotten throughout the years may be wholly new to some. When used correctly, a single word can slice through emotionally fraught situations. Or, when used incorrectly or at the wrong moment, that same word can supercharge an interaction, turning a mundane conversation into a conflagration of sentiment.
Read on for the words—and the events that may have triggered them—that reached popularity the year you were born.
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