Skip to main content

Main Area


In honor of Dictionary Day, here are notable new words coined the year you were born

  • 1980: Hip-hop, megamerger

    Other notable words: bird flu, northern harrier, post-traumatic stress disorder, profiling, support system, wind farm

    Hip-hop became a worldwide musical and cultural phenomenon from this year. The 1980s ushered in a trend toward megamergers in the U.S. banking industry.

  • 1981: High-definition, lemon law

    Other notable words: app, boom box, canola oil, spreadsheet, uninstall, weekend warrior

    The first demonstration of high-definition television in the U.S. this year generated considerable interest. Buyer beware: the first used-car lemon law was endorsed by the Federal Trade Commission in August.

  • 1982: Snail mail, text messaging

    Other notable words: acquired immune deficiency syndrome, break dancing, couch potato, domain name, e-mail, preferred provider organization

    To contrast the speed of electronic mail with that of the U.S. Post Office, Jim Rutt is said to have first used the phrase ‘snail mail’ in 1981, and the term spread from there. Created in the 1980s at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Zephyr Notification System was used for early text messaging.

  • 1983: Gastric banding, proton pump inhibitor

    Other notable words: CD-ROM, information superhighway, kettle chip, liposuction, screenshot, toolbar

    Clinical applications of adjustable gastric banding for obese patients were begun in the early 1980s. Studies released in April looked at the effects of omeprazole, a proton pump inhibitor, on gastric acid.

  • 1984: Desktop publishing, DNA fingerprinting

    Other notable words: clot buster, laptop, moonwalk, phen-fen, spendy, sriracha

    American inventor Bob Doyle and family members introduced MacPublisher, the first desktop publishing program, this year. Geneticist Alec Jeffreys discovered and named the concept of DNA fingerprinting in September.

    You may also like: Iconic products released the year you were born

  • 1985: Biodiversity, statin

    Other notable words: anime, boy band, caller ID, go-to, multi-tool, sexual predator

    Walter Rosen of the National Research Council presented a seminar in 1985 to discuss biodiversity. Michael S. Brown and Joseph L. Goldstein won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries on regulating cholesterol metabolism, which led to the release of the first commercial statin two years later.

  • 1986: Glasnost, ozone hole

    Other notable words: arena football, bungee jump, junk e-mail, sippy cup, sound-bite, SUV

    American scientists in October 1986 reported strong evidence that chemical processes were causing the ozone hole over Antarctica. Although a Russian word for centuries, the term ‘glasnost’ was propelled this year after Mikhail Gorbachev used the word to describe openness in activities in the Soviet Union.

  • 1987: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, virtual reality

    Other notable words: bovine spongiform encephalopathy, community-supported agriculture, in-line skate, paintball, physician-assisted suicide, single-payer

    The American Psychiatric Association updated the distinctions of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” in 1987. Jaron Lanier, founder of the visual programming lab, coined the term ‘virtual reality’ this year.

  • 1988: Boomerang child, stair-stepper

    Other notable words: brick-and-mortar, crop circle, hyperlink, JPEG, mosh pit, road rage

    Coined in 1988, boomerang child refers to young adults who have moved out of the family home only to move back in. The Gauntlet, an improved rotating staircase version of a stair-stepper, was introduced this year.

  • 1989: Eco-friendly, hypertext markup language

    Other notable words: beatdown, cybersecurity, gangsta rap, Generation X, right-click, viral marketing,

    Tim Berners-Lee, credited with inventing the web in 1989, used hypertext markup language, commonly referred to as HTML, to link documents. Also this year, Walmart launched one of the first major retail eco-friendly campaigns.

    You may also like: States with the best and worst animal protection laws

2018 All rights reserved.