New Toy of the Day

So, I ran across the Merriam Webster Time Traveler, which is a database of words sorted by year of first use. I’m sure it’s been around for a bit, but this is the first time I ran into it, so now you get to play around in it, too.

This is how I now know that words like “bionic” and “lip-synch” arrived into this world at about the same time as I did. Same with “highflier,” “fettuccini alfredo,” “diazepam,” and “military-industrial complex,” some of which, admittedly, aren’t really individual words, but I’m willing to look the other way here. It’s the fun that counts. The dastardly “designated hitter” was first put to paper upon my arrival, which suggest a certain foreshadowing of problems on the horizon. We are are own worst enemies, sometimes.

Until my arrival , the world apparently was free of “black ice” and “direct marketing.” Sorry about that.

“Periplasm” was also first tossed around in that year. For those of you who don’t know, periplasm is defined as: the region in a gram-negative bacterium between the plasma membrane and an outer surrounding membrane that contains especially enzymes and a thin layer of peptidoglycan. This sounds as impressive as hell, even though I admit I still don’t know exactly what that is. Still, it says something about the state of science that this word came along when I did, doesn’t it? Want another science word of my year? Try “transfer RNA.”

So, yep, pretty damned cool.

“Photo-realism” was also new when I was. “Rhinovirus,” “skiwear,” and “soul music.” Yeah, maybe I’m giving myself away, right? “tilt-rotor” was a product of my year, too. “Surf and turf,” and the all-important “wazoo.” You’re welcome.

So, yeah, pretty cool.

Of course, this means less than very little at the end of the day (though I do sense a certain mix of angsty angst and smuggy smugness when seeing that “absurdism” and “counterfactual” were brought into circulation in the same year as our current president). Instead, it’s just fun. What’s the harm in that?

Try it out yourself.

If you do, feel free to let me know what words your arrival brought us. [grin]

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