You gotta love the English language. Although it’s almost impossible to count how many words there are in the dictionary, there are around 350,000. And words are being added all the time. Ever since the internet revolution, the words themselves and the way we use them have changed dramatically. Think about it, when you were born, did you ever hear anyone use the word “selfie” or “foodie”? Did you ever hear someone say that they checked their “inbox”? What would the lexicographers (the ones that compiled dictionaries) in the 19th century say if they knew that centuries later, words like blog, voicemail, and WiFi, would become part of our daily vernacular?
These are 40 words that basically didn’t exist just 40 years ago. And as you go through the list, you’ll see just how much these words have become part of our language. And then when you think about how in the next 40 years, even more, new words will be introduced, you might just wonder what those will be.
The word photobomb originated in a 2008 entry on Urban Dictionary. The word is used to describe the moment when someone purposefully inserts themselves into a photograph when it’s being taken.
It’s generally done on purpose a prank, intending to ruin the shot. But photobombing has also become involuntary. We’ve all seen photos in which someone obliviously ruined the shot. Intentional or not, photobombing is a fun spin on photo-taking.
Stop and think for a moment: have you gone one day without Googling something? Chances are, you haven’t. And it’s highly likely that you use the term “Google it” on a regular basis. Google became an official word in 2006, but it was the American Dialect Society’s most useful word of 2002.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t until “Help,” an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, that the verb Google hit TV screens. If you don’t believe it, you can Google it.
The next word is what you say when you stay local rather than fly away for the holidays.
The meaning of this word is how it sounds — a vacation where you stay home instead of going away. “Staycation” first appeared in print in a 2003 Myrtle Beach Sun News article:
By definition, a “vacation” should involve vacating, as in going away. Mine was more like a “stay-cation” — nine glorious days and nights in Myrtle Beach. Millions of tourists do the same, and understandably so. But when you live here year-round, the last thing you want to do is go through the summertime blues in your own backyard, even if it happens to have an ocean.
By 2008, the word started to be commonly used, as more people started staying home due to high gas prices. In 2009, it was added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and in 2010 it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Thus, it’s official.
Inbox became a word in the early 1980s when emails started being used. The term used to be described as a tray or basket for physical pieces of mail, but it wasn’t until the internet that the word was also used to refer folders that hold virtual mail.
The word inbox is even used as a verb, where people will even say “inbox me.” Yes, English is quite a flexible language.
The next word is a huge club term and even refers to non-music related stuff!
Sure, songs have been combined together since the early 1950s, but the word mashup didn’t make a verbal appearance until the mashup style of music became popular around 2000.
Now there are “mashup DJs” who specialize mashing songs up, making clubs a mashup mecca all over the world.
This words encapsulates the special, non-sexual relationship between two men. The term was coined by Dave Carnie, in the skateboard magazine “Big Brother” but the word became popular around 2005 when it was a subject of movies.
Bromance is that bond that men develop when they talk about sports and other bro stuff. All men need a healthy dose of bromance in their lives.
What happened when the words up and recycle were combined? See the next new-ish word!
This mashup of “up” and “recycle,” means taking discarded objects to create something new that has even higher quality or value than the original product. The word was first used in 1994 by Thornton Kay: “What we need is upcycling — where old products are given more value, not less.”
Upcycling gained popularity when author William McDonough and Michael Braungart used it in their 2002 book “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things.” Upcycling has since become a movement, changing the way we look at reusing things that otherwise would have been thrown away.
The word originates from Japan. It was coined in the 90s during time Japanese artist Shigetaka Kurita released the world’s first set of emojis.
The noun stems from the Japanese “e”, meaning “picture,” and “moji”, meaning “letter” or “character.” Now which emoji would you use as a reaction to that?
Have a passion for food? You know the next word for sure!
Social media has a way of making unofficial terms become official words. As of today, on Instagram alone, there are more than 115 million posts associated with the hashtag #foodie.
Apparently, the word first appeared in New York Magazine in 1980, and slowly started becoming a popular word of choice amongst food writers and then pretty much everybody else who loves food.
Infomercial, a hybrid of both information and commercial, showed up in the English language in the early 1980s. We’ve all seen them and we all can’t believe that they still exist today. But they do.
The question is: have you bought something after watching an infomercial? We’re dying to know what!
The next word is something that just about everyone has on the internet today!
Did you know that blog is actually short for weblog? The word blog starting being used in the 1990s, describing a website with a collection of writing.
The creation of the word weblog is attributed to “weblogger” Jorn Barger. But it was programmer Peter Merholz that shortened the term into blog. And look at that – weblog isn’t even used at all.
Contrary to popular belief, Paris Hilton was not the inventor of the selfie. According to The Guardian, an unidentified drunk Australian man was trying to describe his face and incidentally became the first person to coin the term.
That was back in 2002. Think about how the word is used so pervasively today. When’s the last selfie you took? We’ll be amazed if it’s more than a day or two ago.
Next, which ____ is your favorite to listen to?
Podcasts were once referred to as “audioblogging” when it was first created in the 1980s. A podcast is an episodic series of digital audio files available online for anyone with an internet connection to listen to.
The use of the word podcast was first made popular in 2004, by Ben Hammersley, in an article in The Guardian.
Early versions of the modern answering machine were invented in the 1950s. But it wasn’t until the late 70s that people began to use what is now considered an ancient recording device.
As the machines became more popular, the term voicemail was used to describe the messages that were being left for people to hear. Originally, the word was trademarked by the company Televoice International—or Voicemail International—to describe their machines specifically. When’s the last time you either left or received a voicemail?
No, the word wasn’t coined by the Spice Girls. It was actually a surfer slang for the phrase “want to be” and it was first used in 1981.
The word became popular when fans of Madonna fans began to call themselves Madonna wannabes, or Madonnabes. Were you a Madonnabe?
The next word is rather taboo. And no one likes it. Wanna guess what it is?
This isn’t referring to the edible spam. Yuck. We’re referring to the annoying emails that swarm your inbox.
Spam became a major part of the internet culture in 1993 when Usenet administrator Richard Depew accidentally posted the same message 200 times, “spamming” everyone. Now, spam is almost a taboo word. And the spam folder in your email is the dark quarters in which sometimes even legitimate mail gets lost forever among the junk.
When Facebook basically hijacked the internet, it brought with it a bunch of words we never heard of and now use on daily basis.
Unfriending someone is something you can really only do on a platform like Facebook, where the action of removing someone from a list of connections is an acceptable thing to do.
The internet is full of the next one. You might be able to guess what the word is.
Though the word troll has existed in the English language for some time, referring to that little mythical creature that lives under bridges. But no, this is something else.
The term trolling was part of internet slang starting in 1992. When used online, it refers to someone who intentionally makes offensive comments, aiming to stir up controversy. Today, the internet is chalk loads full of trolls.
Wi-Fi wasn’t around 40 years ago, being a new-ish technology. So, of course, the word didn’t exist either. The abbreviation is often interpreted as a shorter version of “Wireless Fidelity,” but according to Oxford Dictionaries, it does not know what it stands for.
The etymologists of the dictionary claim that it stands for “wireless + an apparently arbitrary second element.”
See the next word, which describes both music and individuals.
Emo is short for emocore, and the word became a term in the 1980s mainly in the music scene to refer to a subgenre of rock music: fast tempos, high-octave vocals, and harmonizing.
Emo is also used to describe the people who listen to this type of music, generally characterized by alternative clothes, makeup, and hairstyles.
Yes, the animal has been around for ages and thus so has the word. But the term cougar also refers to an older woman who likes to date younger men.
According to The Star, the term cougar first appeared in 1999, on a now-obsolete Canadian dating website called cougarsdate.com.
Next, a word popular among millennials having difficulty being adults.
A word commonly used by the younger generation having trouble growing up. Those young ones trying to make their way into the world, having a hard time filing taxes, finding a job, paying their bills – they’re having trouble adulating.
This term is popular with millennials, and it was even nominated as a candidate for “word of the year” in 2016 by Oxford Dictionaries.
If you have Netflix, then you know what bingeable means. The word was just recently added to Merriam-Webster in 2018.
It means “having multiple episodes or parts that can be watched in rapid succession.” What shows do you find bingeable?
The next word is one most sports lovers have heard of and probably use.
This one’s for the sports fans. The first known use of the word was in 1990. It was when ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott popularized the exclamation.
He said the word when expressing his joy over every touchdown, home run, and three-pointer he saw. It then became a thing.
Pescatarians are a new thing. According to Merriam-Webster, the hybrid of pesce and vegetarian was created in 1991 to describe people who are mainly vegetarian but they eat fish.
You can’t really call them vegetarians, so they needed a new word that perfectly described their food choices. Because everyone wants to belong to a group.
The next word is similar but is part of another group.
A flexitarian is somewhat of a vegetarian without the dedication to being completely and forever meat-less. Flexitarians eat a regular diet of vegetables but include sources of protein, like meat, in moderation.
Yes, what we would call a regular person who eats normally is what many like to refer to as Flexitarians. Again, don’t we just all want to belong?
When Barack Obama started his presidency, rumors began about him not being born in the US. The controversy dominated headlines and the term birther was given to people who believed it.
At the time, about 25% of Americans doubted that he was born in the country. Once Obama released his certified birth certificate in April 2011, he put an end to all the birthers’ doubts.
Next, ever worried you’re gonna miss out on something? Then you’ve used the next word.
The acronym stands for “fear of missing out” which is admittedly something we all have in some form or another.
The word was first used by marketing strategist Dan Herman in 2000, according to Boston magazine. And it’s also a highly used hashtag on Instagram and Twitter.
The word was invented by author J. K. Rowling to describe a person who isn’t blessed with magical abilities.
It first appeared in 1997, in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, taking just six years for the Oxford English Dictionary to consider it an official word.
The next word is one of respect. And usually includes a type of fist pump!
Since the 1990s, props has been used in the same way the word respect is. You’re also not just given props, you usually need to earn it.
And many times, props is also a new cooler version of the high five or handshake. Two people can pump fists in a gesture of respect.
Back in the 1800s, the word dope describes someone who might be a bit slow on the uptake. But that term eventually became extinct.
Then in 1981, it was revived as an adjective, referring to something positively excellent. That’s dope!
Next, one of many words that came with the invention of computers.
Malware has been around since computers entered our world. The malicious software, or computer virus, was first detected in 1982.
Every computer you ever buy now has software built in to protect it from malware.
Sometimes there are words that perfectly describe a reaction or feeling you have. Meh is neither positive nor negative – it’s meh.
Today, most people will understand you when they ask you how the movie was and you reply with “meh.” But back in another era, people would stare at you in puzzlement at what just came out of your mouth.
From the “shopaholics” of the ’80s to the shoppers with more discriminating tastes in the ’90s, fashionistas came into play.
It’s one of those words you see in print, on blogs, and on social media more so than actually heard being said out loud.
Bling is one of those words that gives a fun spin on otherwise boring words. Bling is the eye-catching effect of diamonds and jewels.
It started in the hip-hop world and eventually spread out to general vocabularies in 1999.
Yes, you’re reading a listicle right now. Listicles made the internet more fun and are a unique product of our modern age.
Today, people crave visuals and lists. What can we do? The people asked for it. They asked and they shall receive!
Glamping is more than just camping. It’s glamorous camping and it usually makes real campers angry.
Glampers spend a night outdoors with beds, electricity, and even indoor plumbing. So the question is, why even bother pretending that you’re outside?
The term means explaining something to someone, typically a woman, in a condescending or patronizing way.
While “mansplain” didn’t really exist as a term 10 years ago, the concept is now a generally-accepted word. Unfortunately.
We all have moments in which we become hangry, defined as “bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger.”
No, not only babies get frustrated and act out when their stomachs are empty. Adults get hangry too.
The word is described as “bold self-assurance in style or manner; an air of great self-confidence or superiority” as an additional definition.
Do you have swag?