Every Word Coined the Year You Were Born
Language is constantly evolving, and the dictionary is right on top of that. Even better, Merriam-Webster has created Time Traveler, which can tell you the exact year certain words first appeared in print. Here's a sampling of the words introduced every year between 1960 and 2010, as high as Time Traveler goes for now.
So many words were first used in 1960 that it seems more practical if we just list the highlights (to see all the words that were new in 1960 or for any year, click on the heading for that year, and you’ll be taken to Time Traveler‘s listing). It was a year of electricity (for both powering things in your home and on the dance floor), new hairstyles, and more types of dogs bred with a poodle.
- AAA battery
- Dufus (also spelled “doofus”)
- Junk food
1961 brought us more batteries and a term for the busiest shopping day of the year.
- AA battery
- Affirmative Action
- Black Friday
- Down Syndrome
- Object code
This was the year that the first touch-tone phones were introduced to customers and the fancy office where the president works got a name.
- Oval Office
- Speed Reading
- Tumble Dry
These photos of kids playing games without technology might bring us all back to a simpler time.
In 1963, the word ‘disco’ was coined to describe the music played in discotheques.
- Space walk
- Source code
The first use of hippie in a 1960’s counter cultural/flower child sense was in a series of articles on Haight-Ashbury that began running in the San Francisco Examiner in September 1965. The word “grunge”—referring to the type of music—also came to be this year.
- Empty-nest syndrome
Big hairstyles got their name in 1966. The annoying red bumps that occasionally pop up on your face were also given a name.
- Head Shop
- Hedge Fund
Don’t worry, you’re not a dork if you do aerobics. But, in 1967, people did have another way to ridicule nerds.
- Flower child
- Estrogen replacement therapy
A few technology terms were coined in 1968. You should also really know these social media slang terms by now.
- Alt key
- Home screen
- Local Area Network
- Word processor
No, a word for a chilly bird wasn’t coined this year. Cold duck actually refers to a beverage consisting of a blend of sparkling burgundy and champagne
- Cold duck
- Delete key
- Limousine liberal
- Video vérité
The term “beeper” was coined in 1970, but people under the age of 20, today, don’t know what a beeper even is. In fact, it’s one of the many things 2000s kids will never understand.
- Comfort food
- Control freak
- Erectile dysfunction
- Love handles
- 800 number
- Asperger’s Syndrome
- HMO (health maintenance organization)
- Sexual harassment
- Flash drive
- Living will
- Women’s studies
Turns out, 1973 was a year of being body-conscious. Bikini wax, anti-cellulite, and underwire bras all became words this year.
- Bikini wax
- Soccer mom
- Weight room
The term “Internet” was coined this year. The dictionary defines it as “an electronic communications network that connects computer networks and organizational computer facilities around the world.”
- Alternative music
- Acquaintance rape
- Heimlich maneuver
These are the most searched words ever, according to dictionary.com.
- Alternative rock
- CT scanner
- Date rape
- Direct broadcast satellite
It seems 1976 was a year of strange new terms. If you’re wondering what a Fern bar is, it’s a slang word for an upscale bar that attracts singles.
- Digital camera
- Fern bar
- Legionnaires’ disease
It’s weird to think that there was a time when people didn’t use the word text message. Here are the things you should never do over text message.
- Bad cholesterol
- Text message
A year of syndromes and sunscreen.
- Information technology
- Stockholm Syndrome
- Sun Protection Factor (SPF)
- Toxic Shock Syndrome
Most of these terms are pretty self-explanatory. Except for Yuppie, which basically means young (Y) urban (U) professional.
- Air guitar
- Chill out
It’s hard to imagine there was a time when the word buffalo wings didn’t exist.
- Buffalo wings
- UI (graphical user interface)
- Veejay (VJ)
The term liposuction was coined in 1983, but it’s changed a lot since then. Here’s how liposuction has evolved since it first burst onto the cosmetic surgery scene.
- Beta test
A few very important terms came to be this year. Laptop, search engine, and the forever iconic moonwalk.
- AIDS-related complex
- DSL (digital subscriber line)
- Hate crime
- Search engine
Can you remember your favorite boy band from the 80s? The Jackson 5, Menudo, New Edition, New Kids on the Block?
- Boy band
- IP address
- Step aerobics
In 1986, popularity was brought to the term Ozone hole. British scientists had discovered a recurring springtime hole in this ozone layer, specifically, above Antarctica.
- Chat room
- Ozone hole
The term emoticon was coined in 1987, but they didn’t look quite as advanced as they do today. At the time they were referring to symbols such as :) and :/.
- Beer goggles
- In-line skate
- Generation X
- Viral marketing
A lot of Internet terms were coined this year: Internet Service Provider, World Wide Web, and the dreaded spam emails.
- Internet Service Provider
- Lithium-ion battery
- World Wide Web
Just one year after the first 3-D printers were sold, the term had already been verbed.
- 3-D printing
- Gulf War Syndrome
- PDA (Personal Digest Assistant)
Some funny terms were coined this year: booty call—and some serious ones: e-commerce.
- Booty call
- Game changer
The term cisgender means relating to a person who identifies with the gender he or she had at birth, is arguably a retronym for people who are heterosexual and traditionally gendered.
Another term was coined about sexual orientation, genderqueer. It’s used as an umbrella term to describe anyone who does not subscribe to conventional gender distinctions and identifies with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.
- Date-rape drug
- Instant messaging
Even though the terms face-palm and fist bump were coined in the 90s, they’re still pretty relevant today.
- Cloud computing
- Fist bump
- Senior moment
- Spoiler alert
Social networking came to light in 1998, but so did cyberbullying.
- Social networking
Ever since the term was coined in 1999, blogs have blown up. Anyone can make one, just make sure your headlines aren’t clickbait. (See what we did there?)
- Carbon footprint
Ahh…the words “bromance” and “twerking.” Remember those?
In 2002, a term was finally coined for when you hold you camera out to take a picture of yourself. Is this good lighting for a selfie? Check out these mind-blowing selfie facts.
- Thumb drive
The terms baby bump and muffin top were coined in the year 2003.
- Baby bump
- Flash mob
- Muffin top
In 2004, there were only six new words. Social media and podcast were two of them. Changing the way people get information drastically. More than a decade later, we’re still trying to figure out how to have a healthy relationship with social media.
- Social media
In 2005, only the following eight words were new. Blogging and podcast got a little more niche calling for new words such as microblogging and vodcast.
The year 2007 saw only six new words. #2007rocked #newwordsarecool
- Additive manufacturing
- Sharing economy
Only three words were first used in 2008. One of them was Bitcoin, the digital currency created for use in peer-to-peer online transactions.
The year 2009 saw only one new word, and that was “Copernicium,” which is a short-lived artificially produced radioactive element that has 112 protons. Think the elements aren’t relevant in your day-to-day life? Check out how each element impacts your daily life.
Just two new words arrived on the scene in 2010:
- Arab Spring
Just as new words are always popping up, some seem to fall by the wayside over time. These awesome words are no longer in common use but probably should be (because who doesn’t hope for a buss from their favorite snoutfair?) And please do skedaddle on over to this list of words that have practically gone extinct in the English language.