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Like birth certificates and marionette lines, slang and colloquialisms too are accurate indicators of age

Not all contemporaneous slang words die out at the same time — ‘cool’ is still cool, but groovy is not.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Oct 16, 2019, 08.35 AM IST
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Many English slang words that have died out in the UK and US still remain in use in the East. ​
Many English slang words that have died out in the UK and US still remain in use in the East. (Representative image)
Slang and colloquialisms are the most easily dateable part of vocabularies, springing up and dying out at specific times in specific places. Indeed, apart from birth certificates and marionette lines, they are the surest giveaway of age. So, the ongoing effort by word historians to compile a list of slang that was once heard everywhere but subsequently died out only underlines this ephemeral aspect of popular argot. After all, when was the last time anyone in the English (slang)- speaking world uttered the word ‘gadzooks’ to signify surprise or annoyance? And when was ‘swell’ used to express general enthusiasm after the era of black-and-white cinema? Anyone who uses — or even understands — words that are past their use-by date can be instantly dated, right back to the decade if not the year.

Of course, not all contemporaneous slang words die out at the same time — ‘cool’ is still cool, but groovy is not. And many English slang words that have died out in the UK and US still remain in use in the east. Indians, for example, are inordinately fond of the word ‘rascal’ — pronounced with appropriate regional emphasis — though the word is scarcely heard in the west now. Some will find comfort in the inevitability that 21st-century patois such as ‘bestie’, ‘woke’, ‘bae’, ‘bromance’, ‘mansplaining’, ‘tweet’ and ‘plogging’ will go the same way.

TL:DR, Bingeable & Other Tech Words That Made Their Debut In The Dictionary

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26 Sep, 2018
Merriam Webster recently introduced over 840 words to the dictionary, including some that were inspired by today’s digital lifestyle. We list some of the favourite tech-inspired words: (Text: Shannon Tellis)
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