word that has changed its meaning in the last ten years.

Discuss word origins and meanings.

word that has changed its meaning in the last ten years.

Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jun 01, 2004 2:53 am

K, I agree with both you and Melvyn. Overall Ken did well; however, a little sentence restructuring could eliminate unnecessary comma splicing.
I recommend "Generally, I use 'in time'..."
The North American tendancy to use the passive voice when writing is an annoying habit. I find it sneaks into my work and usually I (or my wife, a college-level English teacher) am the only person to catch it.
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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jun 01, 2004 3:22 am

Thanks K. and Ian for your comments.

Getting back to the original topic, I guess the person who asked the question has already handed in that assignment, and since Melvyn has broken the ice, I’ll tell what I had in mind, and some others. I was thinking of “ground zero” which will definitely undergo an upgrade in the next edition of all dictionaries. The other “three words” (since withdrawn) which technically aren’t that hot in a multitude of ways (and nothing will show up in the dictionaries), but which are “interesting” are decade, century, and millennium. None of these can stand alone when talking about a change over the last ten years (with respect to the question)and they need “the’s and this’s.” So when someone refers, for example, to “ the turn of the century,” well, something has changed. Similar sort of thing for decade and millennium.

I happened to be looking at either the Random House or Merriam-Webster website (can’t remember which) and they were discussing words whose meanings have changed in just the last few years and they mentioned burn, chops, and rave. The definitions given were,

Burn: To record data (on an optical disk) with a laser

Chops: (slang) Expertise in a particular field or activity.

Rave: A large overnight dance party featuring techno music and usually involving the taking of mind-altering drugs.

I rarely look at my hard copy of Random House Unabridged (exclusively use the CD-ROM), but I saw mentioned in a review, the fact that RH had added a separate section to their second edition - 1998 (which is the one I own) with “1,000 new entries and meanings not found in the main A-Z section.” The complaint the reviewer was making was that RH hadn’t integrated these 1000 new entries and meanings into the main section of the new edition, but had taken the lazy-persons way out, by slapping them into a separate section. My feeling is that they did add 50,000 new entries and 75,000 new definitions to the main section and these 1000 were probably last-minuters (time scales in lexicography could be akin to the time scales for glacial melt).

The beauty of the separate section for me, however, is that you can see some of these new words, and the words which have take on additional meanings (little + sign after the word), and the words with new pronunciations, viewed separately in the light of day and not buried in the 2230 pages of the new edition. I found it fascinating to look through this section. For example, eponym has always meant the person and not the word. But, as many of us know the eponym was very commonly misused and people got it backwards all the time. Well, voilà. As per Erik’s original answer to my “for free” question, it is usage which decides what’s currently acceptable. There is now an addition to the old definition as follows: eponym, + noun, a word based on or derived from a person’s name.

The entirely new words are also a lot of fun:

bad hair day: a disagreeable or unpleasant day, esp. one in which a person feels unattractive [1990-95]

Take-no-prisoners, adj. wholeheartedly aggressive; zealous; gung-ho: “a businessman with a take-no-prisoners attitude toward dealmaking.” [1990-1995]

You can just feel how a “bad hair day” would be and wouldn’t you love to see the “take-no-prisoners” type of person trip and land in some dog-doo.

I would like to thank our original anonymous person for their question. And although we might not have helped them in time for their assignment, I know I sure had a lot of fun.

Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jun 01, 2004 3:37 am

Oh, no, Ken. You've figured out the whole WooWooLand secret: we really don't try to help anyone (especially with homework assignments); we just like having fun. In the "good old days," we would have had to kill you for such knowledge. (Well, WE wouldn't have done it; that was a job for Charles, our chief executioner.) But, here in the kinder, gentler Clubhouse, we'll just welcome you into the "sibling-hood" (must be PC, you know) with open arms. Now that you know our secret, feel free to have fun while avoiding helping lazy students anytime! *G*
Reply from K Allen Griffy (Springfield, IL - U.S.A.)
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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jun 01, 2004 3:51 am

I dunno, Ken, I can remember "take no prisoners" being used as a metaphor a bit further back than 1990.
Reply from Shay Simmons (Colfax - U.S.A.)
(Shay was absolutely right. With very little effort I found quotes which used the expession figuratively, dating back to 1980 and, if I took the time, I'm sure I could find even earlier ones - Random House was full of beans: e.g. <1980 “In the fight mob [[boxing circles]] they are saying that Saturday night’s match between Papino Cuevas and Thomas Hearns in Detroit could be another Graziano-Zale number. . . Thomas and Pipino TAKE NO PRISONS.”—N.Y. Times, 30 June>)
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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jun 01, 2004 4:05 am

I must agree Shay. ALthough I remember it being used more literally (since I worked with DND at the time.
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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jun 01, 2004 4:20 am

somewhat OT but funny: Tuesday's WSJ had an article about Dartmouth's cafeteria catering to students with special dietary needs (Jews who keep kosher, Muslims who observe halal, Jains, Vedas and Upanishads, etc). Marialisa Calta, the writer, described the cafeteria manager as "a Methodist who attended cluinary (culinary) school after serving as a submarine cook in the Navy. He has a take-no-prisoners approach to his kitchens that will not allow for even the slightest deviation from proscribed (prescribed) dietary laws."
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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jun 01, 2004 4:49 am

I rather like 'clu(e)-inary' to describe this school. And it makes sense not to imprison people when the cafeteria manager insists on adhering to illegal laws, which presumably is itself illegal and even implies that it is the manager who is at greatest risk of being imprisoned. The authorities at Dartmouth should be informed!
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Post by Archived Reply » Tue Jun 01, 2004 6:44 am

On a similar thread, I understand there are many words that have changed in meaning, but some have changed so that the original meaning is now lost. I do not mean in the last 10 years either. At a recent Christmas party is was brought up that the word gay is seldom used anymore unless you are describing a person's sexuality. It was also brought up that at one time, a cigarette was known as a fag and also, in the 70's were I grew up that term was used to describe gay people (though neither definition is found in my dictionary).
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Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Jul 10, 2005 5:12 am

Shelley, in his posting Doesn’t have the chops . . ., referred to my above discussion of several years ago. In it I mentioned some information on new words that I had found on a Random House or Merriam-Webster website. In doing a search today to find where that information came from, I discovered that it actually came from the following interesting article on the New House News website (http://www.newhouse.com/archive/story1c123101.html) about the then new 2002 edition of Merriam-Webster’s 10th edition of their Collegiate Dictionary. And it does contain that newer meaning of the word CHOPS: “(slang) Expertise in a particular field or activity.” which has now been incorporated into all newer editions of the M-W Collegiate Dictionary as well as M-W Online (http://www.m-w.com).
_________________________________________________________

Hottie' Is In, `9/11' Out (For Now) in New Dictionary By Ivelisse DeJesus [[no date on the article but probably early 2002]]

Although the devastating events of Sept. 11 instantly transformed so much in American life, it will probably take a good deal longer to determine if the terror attacks left a permanent mark on the American idiom.

Lexicographers at Merriam-Webster Inc., which will release the 10th edition of its hugely popular Collegiate Dictionary on Tuesday, say that because of the deliberate way language evolves, it is just too soon to include any Sept. 11 references in the 2002 dictionary, despite the obvious impact of the events

"Words that qualify for entry are words that have stood the test of time," said Arthur Bicknell, a spokesman for the Springfield, Mass., company, which will have the new edition available online on New Year's Day at http://www.m-w.com

But he said the company's word-watchers (a term that's not in the dictionary, actually) are closely monitoring the national conversation to see if any new words -- or new meanings of established words -- will eventually merit inclusion.

Bicknell said the Merriam-Webster editors have a daily chore of "reading and marking," which means they scour books, newspapers, magazines, the Internet -- even menus -- for new words or meanings. When they find them, they are compiled in a massive, 6 million-entry database of citations.

Then the terms must undergo further scrutiny under two tough criteria: popularity and endurance.

Macarena, for example, did not make the cut. "It didn't last long enough," Bicknell said of the dance routine.

Charting the development of language is not as scientific as it sounds.

"The lexicographers kind of feel it out" as to which words have legs, Bicknell said.

Ironically, one phrase the word mavens are watching -- "That's so 9/10" -- could apply to the new entries for the 2002 edition.

When people say, "That's so 9/10," they are referring to the more innocent era before the attacks -- an era reflected in the new entries and new meanings of words for 2002 that Americans found apparently indispensable in recent years.

Among the new words:

Hottie: A physically attractive person (of either sex).

Dollarization: The adoption of the U.S. dollar as a country's official currency.

e-book: (always lowercase) A book composed on or converted to digital format for display on a computer screen or hand-held device.

webcam: (also lowercase) A camera used in transmitting live images over the World Wide Web.

In addition, several commonplace words took on added meanings:

Burn: To record data (on an optical disk) with a laser.

Chops: (slang) Expertise in a particular field or activity.

Rave: A large overnight dance party featuring techno music and usually involving the taking of mind-altering drugs.

Aside from new entries, it is clear that Sept. 11 did immediately affect the way Americans sought to communicate the tumult of emotions.

Merriam-Webster's annual survey of most frequently looked-up words on its Web site showed that terms related to the attacks in New York and Washington have consistently dominated the dictionary's top 100 spots on its online edition for the past three months.

And like a chronicle of the nation's psyche, the words have changed over the months as Americans searched for terms that resonated with their shifting feelings, said John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam-Webster Inc.

On Sept. 11, for example, words dealing with the physical details of the attacks accounted for most of the dictionary's hits -- words like triage, rubble, hijack and casualty.

By the second and third day, an overwhelming number of the hits were for descriptive words like tragedy, infamy, pandemonium, heinous and horrific. These were followed by words that sought to verbalize the awful range of reactions -- from revulsion, retribution and retaliation to condolence and resolution.

"If you need one more piece of evidence as to how that event was different in the order of its magnitude from anything else, here it is," said Morse. "This is very compelling evidence that people were trying to understand an event through words."

One of the most consistently looked-up words since Sept. 11, Morse said, has been succumb, a word that may have seemed to convey the victims' fate better than its simpler synonym, die.

To be sure, certain words and phrases will forever take on a different association, such as ground zero. The phrase, which refers to the place where a bomb explodes, was coined in the 1940s in connection with the blast caused by an atomic bomb. Now it will undoubtedly always be associated with the attack on the World Trade Center.

"I think it'll be remembered the way Gettysburg reminds us of the big battle of the Civil War," said Allan Metcalf, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, a scholarly linguistic organization. "I suspect when something new is built there, people will still talk about it as Ground Zero."
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Ken G – July 9, 2005
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Post by Phil White » Sun Jul 10, 2005 10:06 am

Ken,

In a similar vein to the last few paragraphs above, in the period about 2 months shortly after the new forum was established here at Wordwizard on January 1 this year, by far the most popular search term that led people to Wordwizard from the search engines (other than the normal "word origin", "phrase meaning" and so on) was "tsunami".

In June and into July, it was "confliction"; in May, it was "suicide doors" (confliction didn't occur at all); April showed no specific word; March was "capiche" (as it was in February); and in January, of course, staggering numbers of "tsunami" and "tidal wave". (The sheer volume of hits on these two terms in fact caused Wordwizard to exceed its bandwidth limit in January.)

For some inexplicable (to me) reason, "vergissmeinnicht" has consistently rated highly.

The current hot favourite for July is "Camberwell carrot" (I can only assume that the cult film "Withnail and I" has just been screened on TV somewhere).
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Post by pingpong fan » Sun Jul 10, 2005 1:09 pm

Archived Topic wrote:
I have to find an english word that has changed its meaning in the last ten years.
Submitted by ( - )
Does "wicked" qualify? My sole modern, and slightly tampered, dictionary does not indicate a timescale for its reverse meaning as now used by some. Ditto - "bad".
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Post by Alton » Sun Jul 10, 2005 4:41 pm

Ken,
I always took the phrase "bad hair day" to be one that indicated a person who was without reason to complain and could only find a trivial thing to whine about.
Also, I assume that the term "grond Zero" refers to the spot at which a missle is aimed or finds it's markIf this is the meaning then then it is much older than ten years as I recall it being used in the fifties and sixtieswhen we were all so frightened of nuclesr war.

p.s. The comment that the phrase "The last ten years fits the criteria was very clever. Compliments!
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Post by russcable » Sun Jul 10, 2005 4:50 pm

In 1992, I worked with a girl from Maine who showed her approval by saying "oooh, wicked" or "that's wicked awesome" etc. I'm pretty sure "bad" as good came before that - it's even a listed meaning on http://www.m-w.com. A current "good" synonym that's not quite as old is "sick" as in "that was a sick ollie" (an ollie is a skateboard trick). But I'm afraid poor (-)'s homework assignment is long past due.

And Ken, I'm afraid they must be wrong about the meaning "burn" as Dale's wife says that "tape" is the only word for recording anything AND he has 5 examples that PROVE it. ^_^
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Post by Phil White » Sun Jul 10, 2005 4:52 pm

Frank,
Both "wicked" (meaning excellent) and "bad" (meaning good) are a lot older than that. Have a look here. I do have the impression that it has become pretty ubiquitous in the UK over the past few years though.
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Post by dalehileman » Sun Jul 10, 2005 6:51 pm

Russ: Did I say "only"
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