These 6 ‘Modern’ Words Are Much, Much Older Than You Thought
From “politically correct” to “smash hit,” these terms have actually been in our language for quite some time.
Popularized by satirist Stephen Colbert in 2005, it’s been listed in the Oxford English Dictionary since 1824 as an alternate form of “truthfulness.” When told that it was already a word, Colbert retorted, “You don’t look up ‘truthiness’ in a book, you look it up in your gut!”
Loudly proclaiming “Not!” at the end of an assertion to negate that assertion was popularized in the late 1980s in Saturday Night Live‘s “Wayne’s World” sketches, but the joke first gained popularity in the early 1900s by, among others, humorist Ellis Parker Butler, who wrote in Pig is Pigs (1905), “Cert’nly, me dear friend Flannery. Delighted! Not!”
This word for “empty talk” or “nonsense” originated in 1820 when Congressman Felix Walker, who was from Buncombe, North Carolina, talked at length about whether Missouri should be admitted to the Union as a free state or a slave state. Politicians subsequently adopted the phrase “talking from Buncombe.” That was shortened to “bunkum” and finally to “bunk” by humorist George Ade, who wrote in his 1900 book More Fables, “History is more or less bunk.”
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