|image by jovike. |
As a college instructor who has been teaching classes English departments since the 1980s, my observations about aging often focus on word choice, etymology, usage, technical terms for phenomena observed by people in aging bodies, and evolving definitions:
- Generation Jones-er as a specific term for younger Boomers
- Gerotranscendence as type of wisdom often associated with advanced age
- Gray vs Grey in the context of my age-correlated changes to my hair color
- Grounded as my focus word for inviting greater calm and maturity
- Midlife defined not by age but by a variety of milestones
- Older Adults as the preferred term replacing senior citizens, etc.
- Vollendungsroman a literary term for a novel of completion or fullness
Consequently, my curiousity was piqued when I saw @MerriamWebster share a link to their Time Traveler search tool.
The editors are documenting how their dictionary reflects the all-consuming influence of the current global pandemic:
- coronavirus disease and abbreviations COVID-19 and C-19
- pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome
- physically distance
Their tweet encouraged followers to look up neologisms for their birth year. I read several replies, seeing what new words entered their dictionary in the 1990s, 1980s and 1970s.
However, I wanted to go back to the 1960s to see what words emerged during the year that I made my first appearance. While my search result included words related to diseases of the body and the mind as well as words related to crime and other social diseases, I decided to avoid any scuzzy words--well, except that one.
The words that caught my eye invoke a bygone era of corporate America, hostesses, rocket ships, fashion and films.
As an English major studying in the 1980s, I was assigned to read short stories and novels from the mid Twentieth Century. Many of these works describe the psychological trauma that men faced by working in offices where not only was their behavior scrutinized by their personalities. The year before this word appears in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a play satirizing corporate culture opened on Broadway: How to Succeed at Business without Really Trying depicts a culture where win-win was a buzz word.
|Image by gbaku|
by looking up words that appeared
the same year that you did?