Saturday, September 7, 2019

Does Every Generation Contribute To The Dictionary?

Image result for words images

Booty call.  Tramp stamp.  YOLO.  Whatever. Geek.  Awesome.  Yuppie.  Hippie.  Teenybopper.  Going steady.  Doggie bag.  Zoot suit.

These are just some of the words coined by the generations of the past century.  In an Oxford University Press book by Allan Metcalf, From Skedaddle to Selfie:  Words of the Generations, we are treated to scores of words that have defined generations past and present.

Metcalf, an author, professor, and executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, interestingly points out how certain generations coin words and how we come to define the generations by the words they develop.  

Certainly words make each generation distinctive.  Picking up on other books, Generations and The Fourth Turning, he notes that generations tend to come in four varieties – and then repeat themselves every 80 years or so – or the length of a lifetime.  The sequence is as follows:  artist (adaptive), prophetic (idealistic), nomad (reactive), and hero (civic).

The newest generation, Gen Z, is also coined “Homeland,” for the post – 9/11 era.  The first American generation was called The Compromise Generation, for those born 1767-1791.

Some of the word origins are fascinating.  Did you know that "deadline" comes from when in a prison, a line, was drawn, and if a prisoner crossed it, he would be shot dead!

Metcalf tells us how hot dog came to be.  Same with: pioneer, dude, carpetbagger, fan, gung ho, babysitter, groovy, grunge, slacker, hipster, meh, sexting, and FOMO.

Did you know the word "jazz," before it was applied to a type of music, was used as a baseball term?

Some terms couldn’t exist but for the era they came from.  Take fast food or junk food.  That just did not exist in 1885.  But the Boomers made multi-billion-dollar brands famous for their crappy food.  See McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken, for starters.

Or look at “hacker.”  You couldn’t have that without technology to break into, though newspapermen were hacks.  So were cabbies.

Some words come out of nowhere and resonate, like dork or road trip.

What will be the new words and phrases of generations to come?  They will, like all generations before them, coin a word based on status, politics, economics, human foible, or the most natural feelings and experiences.  

Look at dating and sex.  We’ve gone from all kinds of phrases:  hook up, one-night stand, friends with privileges, going steady, dating, married, polygamous, etc.  

What will people in 2039 use to describe love or sex – if those things will even exist?

How authors get their book marketing mojo – and avoid failure

Authors cannot succeed without the right attitude

So what is needed to be a champion book marketer?

Should You Promote Your Book By Yourself?

The Book Marketing Strategies Of Best-Sellers

How authors can sell more books

No. 1 Book Publicity Resource: 2019 Toolkit For Authors -- FREE

Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2019. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.