In each one I’ll compile a list of words first used in English for a particular year, starting with one hundred years ago, 1911, and working my way to the present year. The words are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, based on that dictionary’s earliest citation for that word. Of course, that does not necessarily mean the word was coined in the given year; it only means that is the earliest date the big dictionary has for the word. In many cases, these words can and have been antedated.
I tried to select twenty-six words, one for each letter of the alphabet. But in some cases I’ve got more than one for a particular letter, in others none.
It’s quite an interesting read; among the food-and-drink names first attested a century ago are Chardonnay, mozzarella, and Waldorf salad, among the general cultural terms are airmail, brassiere, and joblessness, and slang words are floozy, hoosegow, and hophead. Most surprising entry: photocopier. Most educational:
lettergram, n. A lettergram was a telegram that upon arrival at the local telegraph office, was placed in the mail for ordinary postal delivery, instead of being delivered immediately by courier. A nice bit of nostalgia for those that remember them. (I don’t.)
Who knew? I look forward to future posts in the series.