Words that have changed over time

Jane Fleischman

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Photo credit to Wikipedia Commons

Over the past few years, language has evolved with the rapid changes in tech. Here are some new words.

Over time language evolves, and with the new age of technology, many words have gained new meaning. For most of these words, the original meaning is maintained while an additional definition and context may be tacked on.

Google- Google existed as a word before the company, but now almost all use is referring to the search engine. Google is also an early example of a company/product becoming so ubiquitous that its name can be used as a verb. For example, if you didn’t know the word ‘ubiquitous’, you would google it. Even in cases when the person may not use Google as a search engine, the word has become synonymous for ‘look up’.

Tablet- The word was once was used to refer to a thin, flat piece of stone that was used for writing. Now the word tablet refers to a touch screen computer such as an iPad. The technology for tablet computers, originally using a stylus, was developed in 1956. However, over 60 years later, the word is almost always used in reference to the computer.

Juul (verb form)- Juul is a popular e-cigarette brand founded in 2015. The brand name has quickly become used as a verb, in a similar manner to Google. Being such a new word, grammar rules have yet to catch up. In formal writing, such as news stories, it is unclear whether it should be written as “juuling” or “Juuling.”

Meme- The word meme predates the internet by quite a bit, originally referring to any element of a culture spread from person to person, including behaviors, styles and ideas. The word has involved with internet culture and now is much harder to define. Oxford dictionary defines it as “an image, video, piece of text, etc., typically humorous in nature, that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users, often with slight variations.”  The evolution of the word meme didn’t exactly change, it just adapted to refer to a far more specific cultural phenomenon.   

Profile- Once profile just meant an outline or concise biographical sketch. Now it normally refers to a collection of personal details by a user, such as photos, statistics and timelines. The older meaning remains, but now they may not even be the first definition to come to mind