Grammar

Site Lists Words Added to the Dictionary When You Were Born

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In honor of Dictionary Day, a newspaper compiled words added to the dictionary over the years to show which appeared when you were born!

From time to time, I write about various new words added to the dictionary. In many cases, the words I find are either not really words or probably didn’t merit being acknowledged.

But from a historical perspective, you can learn a lot from certain words and the time they first appeared.

The Mooresville Tribune recently looked back at words added to the dictionary since 1920. Their article gives people the chance to go back to their birth year and look at a couple of words making their debut that year. They wrote the article in honor of National Dictionary Day, which occurs every Oct. 16. The day honors the birthdate of Noah Webster in 1758.

For instance, consider the term ZIP-code. We all use zip codes now without even really giving them a thought. But back in 1963, it was a new concept. The U.S. Postal Service introduced the five-digit ZIP-code to help speed up delivery. Zip codes are now nine digits, although I suspect most people still don’t know (or care) what the additional four digits are.

Sometimes, words take a good while to make it into the pages of a dictionary. Take a Bloody Mary, for example. The drink itself made its debut in the 1920s. But it didn’t make it into the dictionary until a decade later, in 1939, just in time for the premieres of Gone With the Wind and The Wizard of Oz. (I don’t know that the drink would be a good mix with either movie.)

We easily assume the Purple Heart has been around for a long, long time. But it was created in 1932, and that’s the year that the medal, which honors someone wounded or killed in action, first appeared in the dictionary.

What about the year I was born?

I remember a time when 1969 didn’t seem quite so long ago. It does now.

That year saw the term in vitro fertilization make its debut in Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. It was also the first year you could look up Martin Luther King Day. America marked that occasion in January of 1969, less than a year after the death of the civil rights icon.

The sport utility vehicle, which we now know as an SUV, also appeared for the first time in 1969. Somehow I didn’t think they were that old at all. But Chevrolet claims it invented the first one way back in 1935.

Visit the Mooresville Tribune here to see what words made their debut the year you were born!

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.