Special Report

30 Words That Didn’t Exist 30 Years Ago

Behind every word there is a decision that was made about how and why a specific combination of letters was going to refer to a certain activity, object, subject, or feeling. And while the English language already has hundreds of thousands of words in it, more are being added all the time as people continue to come up with new words and phrases to describe new inventions.

24/7 Tempo reviewed several online English dictionaries for word definitions and meanings, including Merriam-Webster and Urban Dictionary, to create a list of 30 frequently used words that didn’t exist 30 years ago. Expressions and words that already existed but had different meanings were excluded.

The digital revolution has changed many aspects of everyday life, including how people communicate. Social media has facilitated communication with ease. Our everyday vocabulary is full of neologisms — newly coined words — expressing ideas that we wouldn’t have understood just a few years ago.

Many of the words on our list — which is not comprehensive — are a blend of two other English words used to describe a newly formed term. Others are a combination of Latin words. There are also a few words on the list that were created as nouns but have become much more popular as verbs.

Though we did not include them on this list, many words acquire new meanings because of technological change — here are 36 popular words we use today but with new meanings.

Click here to see 30 words that didn’t exist 30 years ago.

To create a list of 30 words that didn’t exist 30 years ago, 24/7 Tempo reviewed several online English dictionaries for word definitions and meanings, including Merriam-Webster and Urban Dictionary. We excluded expressions such as “social media.” Words that existed but had different meanings were also excluded. One example is the term “muggle,” which became popular after it was used by J. K. Rowling in its Harry Potter books. “Muggle” is nowadays used to refer to people who don’t have certain skills, but decades ago it was used as a colloquial term for marijuana.