These Are the Words That Were Added to the Dictionary the Year You Were Born
Discover if you're more of a "barf bag" or a "McMansion."
A word, as small a unit of language as it might be, can tell you a lot about a year. That's the entire idea behind a word of the year from the Oxford English Dictionary or Merriam-Webster Dictionary. A single word can tell a story—like when Oxford said the 2016 word of the year is "post-truth" or Merriam-Webster announced "feminism" as the 2017 word of the year. Though, anyone who has heard a parent say their middle name in a stern tone of voice is well aware of everything that can be communicated in just a handful of letters.
Merriam-Webster can show the ways a word can tell you about a period of time, even beyond its annual word of the year. It created a tool called Time Traveler that reveals words that first appeared in its print dictionary in the year you were born. (Or, of course, any other year you enter into the site.)
It's an amazing tool that will endow you with the important information that if you were born in 1990, you were born in the same year "tighty-whities" and "McMansion" hit the dictionary.
Time Traveler launched in 2017, but any time it gets passed around social media, it produces great responses as people discover their birth year contains gems like "barf bag," "sudoku," and, sigh, "climate change denial."
I was excited when I learned that “gangsta” and “crop circles” where first officially recorded the year I was born. But fun turned into grim prophecy whe I discovered “unibrow” was as well.— Jan Pytalski (@jpquestion) October 19, 2020