Words of the last 100 years
November 10, 2011 3:23 PM   Subscribe

Dave Wilton of wordorigins.org (prev) has been compiling etymological snapshots for each year of the past 100 years, based on words that first appeared in English that year. As of now, he is up to 1941. The 1911 entry gives a good overview of his goals and parameters. (via)

Of note, "The words are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, based on that dictionary’s earliest citation for that word. Of course, that does not necessarily mean the word was coined in the given year; it only means that is the earliest date the big dictionary has for the word. In many cases, these words can and have been antedated. "

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a very good tagging system on the site. For convenience, all the entries thus far:
posted by kmz (9 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
This is awesome.

1911 was a revelation: air force, allergen, brassiere, Chardonnay, de-sexed, get together, mozzarella, off-peak, photocopier (that long ago!), underinsure and x & y chromosomes! And if you wonder if many of today's 'new words' will last, 1911 brought us floozy, hoosegow, ivory tower (those two somehow fit together), poison pen and zing! I'm one year in and already semi-overwhelmed (quick, when did 'overwhelm' enter the language?). And thankyouverymuch kmz for all the links to the specific years so far.

But it'll certainly be more of a challenge picking the best words when he gets within the most recent 10-15 years. In 2111, will we remember those tablet things as 'kindle', the 'iPad' or some other brand-turned-generic not yet introduced? Will there be a whole other definition for 'spongebob'?

At about 30 words a year, that'll be over 3000 examples of slang, former slang, technical jargon and brand names we'll be able to pinpoint the date of birth for*.

*of course, some assholes will insist we backdate them to their dates of conception...
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:03 PM on November 10, 2011

Sexpert was first used in 1924?? All right, who's been playing with the time machine again?
posted by ericbop at 4:21 PM on November 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I've been writing a story set in the 1890s. Thanks to the very first entry, I know that I've boned up in using the word "taxi."
posted by broken wheelchair at 4:49 PM on November 10, 2011

Nice. The correct definition of SNAFU is given, then this: Reference works often change the offending word to fouled, but that doesn’t fool anyone.
posted by Loudmax at 4:50 PM on November 10, 2011

posted by Slithy_Tove at 6:21 PM on November 10, 2011

I remember Dave from the old days at alt.folkore.urban and alt.english.usage.

As expected, he tended to be a huge killjoy, but rightfully so.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:17 AM on November 11, 2011

The correct definition of SNAFU is given, then this: Reference works often change the offending word to fouled, but that doesn’t fool anyone.

Most documentaries nowadays (Ken Burns' "The War" comes to mind) tend to place a bit of a comic highlight around the word "Fouled" when they explain FUBAR.

Actually, come to think of it, there was an entire chapter of "The War" called "FUBAR" and I think they actually bleeped it out. Nevertheless, other examples still exist, where it's clear they are deliberately using "fouled" in place of "fucked."

If only David Blaine were around during WWII, so things would simply be Eff'ed Up.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:24 AM on November 11, 2011

I say this so often I should set up a blog to collect them - a favorite favorites - but this is what the Internet is for. Thanks for posting in such a convenient format.

(For me, the Internet is for talking about blogs I should start.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:24 AM on November 11, 2011

Whoa. Love this. Thanks, kmz!
posted by heyho at 5:03 PM on November 11, 2011

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