1968 Retrospect: New Words

The English language is always evolving. New words are added and others slowly fade away. In 1968, The World Book choose words to be added to the 1969 edition of its dictionary. These words were no doubt in use for several years prior to 1968, but they finally gained common enough acceptance to finally be recognized.

It’s quite a long list, but I have pared it down to the more interesting ones. Below are some that you will certainly recognize, then some that never quite caught on.

Here are some words that you will certainly recognize:

  • arm twister
  • ax grinder
  • beefcake
  • brain-picking
  • character assassination
  • day-tripper
  • diploma mill
  • fertility drug
  • guinea-pig
  • handgun
  • hippie
  • in-joke (now inside joke of course)
  • instant replay
  • meat-and-potatoes
  • Medicaid
  • plain-Jane
  • R and R
  • speed reading
  • trendsetter
  • tween
  • zap

Here are some that apparently didn’t catch on after all. (Warning: a few of these are racial insensitive and rightly no longer used. They are only here as a historical study.)

  • Bob’s your uncle – you know the rest; that’s all there is to it
  • breen – a brown-tinted green color
  • Chinese homer – a home run made on a hit that travels only a short distance
  • daymare – an experience that is like a bad dream
  • GUM – state-operated department store in the Soviet Union
  • nebbish – a drab, clumsly, inconsequential person
  • nudnik – a tiresome, annoying person
  • rice Christian – an Asian or African native who converts to Christianity soley to receive food provided by missionaries
  • roadeo – a contest or exhibition of skill in driving automobiles, trucks, etc.
  • slanguage – slangy language
  • squaw winter – a brief period of prematurely cold weather in early autumn
  • telephonitis – an excessive or abnormal urge to make telephone calls

1968 Retrospect: Republican Primary

On November 18, Romney announced that he had “decided to fight for and win the Republican nomination and election to the Presidency of the United States.” Early polling indicated he was the leader among moderate Republicans. However, Romney withdrew from the race on February 28 after his internal polling showed that he was certain to lose.

So why am I telling you about Mitt Romney when I’m supposed to be talking about 1968? Well, I’m not. The story above is about Mitt’s father George and his short-lived run for the White House in 1967-68.

After Richard Nixon won the presidency, George Romney was appointed to Nixon’s cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. After the end of the Nixon administration, he largely fell out of the public eye to concentrate on public service and as well as work with his church.

1968 Retrospect: A Recurring Post

I was digging around in our storage shed and ran across some old encyclopedia year books produced by The World Book. (Do they even make these things anymore?) I’ve got books that cover years 1966 through 1970.

I was thumbing through the books and found myself fascinated with them. The perspective on events is often different immediately after they occur as opposed to 40 years later.

So, I have decided on having a recurring post throughout this year called 1968 Retrospect. I will try to find unique information and perspectives that you may not find anywhere else.

I hope you enjoy it.