This is just a quick run through some of the words and expressions which have appeared in the English language in the past several decades. I have made a point of keeping away from technological terms which would fill several blog posts by themselves. I feel that technology is a different world which is constantly evolving and is a subject in itself.
From the world of films and books we have blockbuster, sitcom, romcom, chick flick, chick lit and storyline (which surely just used to be known as plot?)
Here are some from the world of fitness and exercise. Aerobics, planking, spinning, jazzercise, Zumba – I could go on.
Then there are the media words such as paparazzi,Twitterazzi, YouTuber, podcast and blog – blog just had to be in there!
When we look at the language of environmental awareness there are words like biomass, global warming, freegan.
Here are a few more with some history on their origins. Credit to Google, Wikipedia etc.
Glamping – not tried it. Although I have done lots of camping in my time.
The word “glamping” first appeared in the United Kingdom in 2005 and was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016. The word is new, but the concept that “glamping” connotes, that of luxurious tent-living (or living in other camping accommodations), is not. In the 16th century, the Scottish Earl of Atholl prepared a lavish experience in the Highlands for the visiting King James V and his mother. Here, the Duke pitched lavish tents and filled them with all the provisions of his own home palace.
Humongous – Humongous is an American slang word coined in the 1970’s, copying more proper words like tremendous or enormous. If you want to describe something that’s so big it’s hard to really measure, like the national debt or the number of cells in your body, you can use the world humongous. Just don’t use it in a formal paper.
24/ 7 – The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the term as “twenty four hours a day, seven days a week; constantly”. It lists its first reference to 24/7 as from US magazine Sports Illustrated in 1983. The man to use it was basketball player Jerry Reynolds and he was talking about his jump shot.
I drafted this in January, decided it wasn’t that interesting and shelved it. However, we have since had a pandemic and a whole lot of new words have crept into everyday speech. Some already existed but were rarely heard. Here are some of the words and phrases we are suddenly hearing daily.
Furlough – I had heard this before but rarely, and always in connection with people taking leave from the forces. Here in Britain, it has been a lifesaver for many and we now hear it all the time.
Pandemic – we know what an epidemic is, most of us knew the meaning of the word pandemic but we never expected we would actually live through one for the best part of a year – and still counting.
Social Distancing – surely coined especially for a pandemic. I had certainly never heard the expression before.
Quarantine – Yes, we all knew this word already but this year it is in daily use everywhere as well as the expression ‘self-isolate’. The word quarantine comes from quarantena, meaning “forty days”, used in 14th–15th-century Venice and designating the period that all ships were required to be isolated before passengers and crew could go ashore during the Black Death plague epidemic.
Flattening the curve – Essentially a mathematical expression and now in common everyday parlance.
Algorithm – originally a mathematical term and now used a lot during this pandemic.
Staycation – The word staycation is a portmanteau of stay (meaning stay-at-home) and vacation. The terms “holistay” and “daycation” are also sometimes used. The earliest reference to this term as coming from a 2003 article by Terry Massey in The Sun News. It’s what everyone here did this summer when they had to cancel their holiday plans.
Some are existing words and expressions in common use by the medical profession alone and now being used by everyone. These include PPE, asymptomatic, antibodies, ventilators, respirators, community spread, contact tracing, herd immunity,containment.
Last but not least, a word I don’t think I’d ever used in my life before and now even hear my small grandchildren using – LOCKDOWN!
I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for commenting.
Just goes to show how language is constantly evolving! Another interesting post would be words no longer in use.
Only yesterday, I was talking with a friend about how we never hear the word gumption (common sense) these days. My mum used it a lot. Is it a British word or was it widespread, I wonder?
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Oh, “gumption” is a good word! And one that my mother used quite frequently. She had gumption, in fact, taking the matter in hand to get the job done and forge ahead.
A great idea, thanks!
Now THAT..is an amazing, and..exhaustive collection..of something I had not..thought about. It was a great read..and I thank you very much! ina puustinen westerholm
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I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Ina!
Thanks Ina! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Meryl