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

The Miracle Bird

When the kids were much younger, we had a cockatiel named Jasmine. The bird was in its cage at night or when we were gone. However, when we were home, we often let have the freedom to fly around the house. One day, I needed to head to the store to pick up something. I quickly opened and shut the front door as I went out, so as not to let the bird out. The only problem was, I had forgotten to say goodbye to the kids. As I was getting into the car, one of the girls opened the front door to run out and say goodbye. I watched in horror as the bird flew out the door and out of sight.

The Wife and I comforted two devastated kids and assured them we would do everything we could to find her. We drove around for quite some time, but had no luck. As a last ditch effort to assure the kids we had done everything, we placed an ad in the newspaper. Now The Wife and I knew there was no way the bird could survive even a single night outside. The cockatiel is native to Australia, which is slighly warmer than Idaho in February (the temperatures were in the twenties and thirties as I recall).

To our complete shock, we received a call 3 days later. It seems that this lady walked out onto her front porch and saw something completely out of place–a cockatiel perched up on the light. Somehow she was able to coax it down onto her shoulder. She then checked out the newspaper–and sure enough found our ad.

Jasmine certainly must have been lonely, cold, and scared for those 3 long days. But how fascinating would it have been to have a little camera attached to her to see exactly where she went and what she did? It would go a long ways toward answering the question: How did this miracle bird manage to survive 3 days outside during a frigid Idaho winter?