Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Word Origins and Meanings by Diana Flegal

Shakespeare once said: What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

Did you know all written languages were originally figures of speech?

"Get out of town!", you say?

The American language is constantly changing, influenced by the many cultures living here as well as technology. Years ago someone coined the words Hot Seat for the electric chair, which we now use in a much broader sense, meaning under pressure.  Silly originally meant happy but now means foolish. If enough time passes, the original meaning will be lost as the broader one takes it's place.

When an author is writing a contemporary story, they need to use words that their reading audience can relate to, but they can not be too trendy, as the words meaning will quickly be replaced. Just as Groovy dates a story to the 70's, it is best to choose words that might still be in use 10-15 years ahead.

Wikipedia tells us the definition of many words that have origins specific to the internet. One example is the word Meme: A meme is "an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture".[3] Planking is a meme example. Someone is photographed laying face down, posts the photograph online and they have planked.  Check out these hilarious photos of planking.

To get an idea how old words are given new meanings, and new words are created, check out Global Language Monitor's list of the top trending words of 2013.

A new word that got my attention was Twitflocker — The Next Big Thing in technology.

It is so common for us to say, "Is there an App for that"?

A new expression my friends and I are using now was coined from a T.V. advertisement:

"I unfriend you"!

"That's not how this works, that's not how any of this works".

What fun new words have become your favorites or have at least made you smile?

I like this one: crickets! Meaning silence - no one is talking.


Tom Threadgill said...

Hi Diana! My wife and I use the "I unfriend you" all the time. We love that commercial! Hope to run into you at Blue Ridge!

Linda Glaz said...

I just used Just sayin' in a novel and debated over it for a bit.

Diana said...

Tom, def grab me at Blue Ridge and say hello.
Linda, I hear you. I use Just sayin' all the time. :-)

Jean Wise said...

Of course polar vortex became quite the word this year and now I see _______ vortex used for everything chaotic. Interesting to note the trend for nouns to become verbs - I'll google that, for example.

I love playing with words, finding new ones and using them like creative toys they are to writers.

Eddie Jones said...

The ones I can remember are words used in the sense that "I've been ..."
"Googled" "unfriend" "outsourced" "downsized" "farmed out"

I'm sure more will come to me.

Diana said...

Good ones Eddie and Jean. I agree, it is fun to play with words.

SunnySue said...

I use the term "messed-upness" in my new book. A beta reader told me that she doesn't think that's a word. "That's true," I told her. "I made it up." But that's how all these start. Someone decides that we need a new word, so we invent them. Sometimes they catch on.

Diana said...

Sunny Sue, I like the word "messed-upness". I might steal- I mean borrow it :-)