Web

What’s a meme? Something that didn’t exist 20 years ago

sexting-oxford-dictionary
English — it’s not your grandma’s language anymore — not even if your grandma spoke English. Our constantly evolving vernacular has come a long way since it was first heard in early medieval England, but with recent digital and technological innovations, we’ve had to create new ways to discuss and describe some of the more novel aspects of our 21st-century lives. In the two decades since Dictionary.com has been defining words for us, they’ve seen quite the evolution of terminology, and today, its 20th birthday, the site has taken a look back on how words in 1995 have been repurposed for 2015.

Noting that “technology in particular has shaped our word use over time,” nouns, verbs, and adjectives have adopted brand new usages with the advent of social media, the cloud, and the Internet at large. And some words have even been adopted as different parts of speech.

Today, for example, you no longer need to befriend someone, you can just friend them. Of course, Twitter and Facebook have had effects on certain manners of speech, as well, but Dictionary.com points out that “the rise of smartwatches and fitness trackers launched new meanings for words like swipe and glance, as in information on an electronic screen that can be understood quickly.”

For your perusing pleasure, the site prepared a list of a few of the tech-related words that have either joined the ranks of Dictionary.com or taken on new meaning in the last twenty years. “We are proud to celebrate 20 years of helping people all over the world unlock the power of language and apply it to their daily lives — from conversations with friends to a post on Facebook,” said Liz McMillan, chief executive officer of Dictionary.com. “This list shows just how much the rise of technology has shaped our word use over time, and is a fun way to revisit the evolution of the English language since the dawn of the Internet era.”

And of course, for more, you can visit the Dictionary.com blog:

Bump: to move an online post or thread to the top of the reverse chronological list by adding a new comment or post to the thread.

Cloud: any of several parts of the Internet that allow online processing and storage of documents and data as well as electronic access to software and other resources.

Footprint: a unique set of characteristics, actions, etc., that leave a trace and serve as a means of identification.

Friend: to add a person to one’s list of contacts on a social-networking website.

Like: to indicate one’s enjoyment of, agreement with, or interest in website content, especially in social media.

Meme: a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.

Ping: to make contact with someone by sending a brief electronic message, as a text message.

Profile: the personal details, images, user statistics, social-media timeline, etc., that an individual creates and associates with a username or online account.

Sandbox: an environment in which software developers or editors can create and test new content, separate from other content in the project.

Swipe: to move the fingers across a touchscreen.

Text: to send a text message.

Timeline: a collection of online posts or updates associated with a specific social-media account, in reverse chronological order.

Tweet: a very short message posted on the Twitter website.

Unplug: to refrain from using digital or electronic devices for a period of time.

Viral: becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the Internet.

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