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

Foot in Mouth Disease

I have definitely said a few things that I regretted almost immediately–foot in the mouth moments I guess. Thankfully, I believe the number and severity of such incidents has declined exponentially over the years. This is borne out by the fact that the two worst ones (and they are really bad) occurred over 20 years ago when I was a senior in high school.

This guy sitting behind my in health class was a complete jerk. Constant rude, obnoxious comments–just wouldn’t shut up. Very annoying. One day, I turned around and said to him: “You are the most annoying person I know. I bet your family wants to kill themselves.” Yeah…turns out his brother had committed suicide the previous year. I just didn’t know him that well and didn’t make the connection with the last name.

Our band took a fleet of school buses down to Disneyland during my senior year (I guess airplanes had not been invented yet). Somehow I ended up on the wrong bus. I was stuck for 24 hours on a yellow school bus with the bus driver from the very bowels of hell. If you look up grouchy in the dictionary, you’ll see her picture. Go ahead and check…I’ll wait. Finally, I couldn’t keep it inside anymore. I looked over to the girl in the next seat and said: “Oh, I hate our bus driver. She is so rude.” Yeah…as luck would have it, I was talking to the bus driver’s daughter.