The growth of the English language is probably at it’s fastest pace ever in history. New words come into being daily driven by the use of English both as a global language and by the invention of new technologies that need new words and phrases to describe them.
There are, however, some words that we might just associate with the hipster speak of todays’ social media that turn out to be a lot older than you might think , certainly a lot older then the internet iteself. So here are six of them …
The term trick out, which one might assume is an Americanism, is actually several hundred years older than the United States.
The verb trick has been paired with the prepositions up, off, and out as early as the 1500s to refer to something that is embellished for the distinct purpose of attracting attention.
It appears in a letter from a British Admiral no less, John Arbuthnot Fisher, to Winston Churchill. He writes, “I hear that a new order of Knighthood is on the tapis–O.M.G. (Oh! My God!)–Shower it on the Admiralty!!”
The fact that Fisher, who was 76 at the time, defines OMG in his letter suggests that he thought Churchill might be unfamiliar with the term.
The acronym LOL existed long before chatrooms and text messaging, although originally it had a very different meaning to the morre moderen “Laugh Out Loud”.
In the 1960s this ‘phrase’ emerged in the US meaning “little old lady.” The internet sense, which dates back to the late ‘80s, has no connection to petite elderly women. When people first evoked the “laugh out loud” sense of LOL, they likely were laughing, if not out loud, then silently. However, over the last several years LOL has evolved. Now it can be used as a marker of empathy, even when nothing guffaw-worthy has occurred.
Upon first entering the language punk referred to a lady of the night, though this sense, along with other vulgar senses, has since fallen out of use. By the turn of the 20th century punk could refer to a worthless person. In the 1920s, punk referred to an amateur or inexperienced youth, which ultimately led to it’s use in the punk rock movement.
Much beloved and overused by the surfing community, dude, believe it or not, has been around since 1883.
An 1883 article from the New-York Mirror describes dudes, or doods, as “tight-trousered, brief-coated, eye-glassed, fancy-vested, sharp-toes shod” fops of New York City.
To dude up meant to dress in one fanciest, best, or most stylish clothes, and was used since the late 1800s.
The term dude ranch came to English just before 1920 and refers to a ranch operated primarily as a vacation resort. This evokes the image of a city dandy trying to experience rural life for novelty’s sake. Back in the 1883, the female counterpart of the dude was known as the dudine, however, over time dude has come to apply to most any person, both male and female, perhaps most famously to the character of “the Dude” in The Big Lebowski.