The English language is a flexible creation that changes over time. As new words spring to life, old words fade into obscurity. This old process is speeding up thanks to new internet words and slang that spreads like wildfire online.
For example, just the other day I learned about the word “cheugy.” Yet when I told my son Ian about it, he was stumped. He said it’s an old term no one uses anymore — and yet here I was, thinking I was up-to-date.
Gen Z isn’t alone: IT professionals have their own personal lingo, as well. Tap or click here for 10 secret code words IT folks use. If you know all of these new tech terms, you’re practically a tech whiz yourself!
Before we dive into the most cutting-edge new internet words, let’s start at the beginning
The word “internet” dates back to the early 1970s. It describes the vast network of computers, websites, and technology that now lets us:
- Send tweets
- Shop online
- Spend way too much time on Facebook
Other terms (like “information superhighway”) have tried to encompass what the internet does. But the short, simple “internet” is what stuck. Next, let’s look at a pretty popular term you might hear near a group of kids.
In 2011, the Concise Oxford Dictionary, a pared-down version of the great-grandaddy Oxford English Dictionary, recognized “woot” as a word. “Woot” is usually used as a joyful outburst, an exclamation of enthusiasm. The word’s origin as internet slang is murky, but it seemed to first emerge in the 1990s. A popular deal-of-the-day site even used the word for its name. Woot.com was later purchased by Amazon.
Love them or hate them, selfies seem like they’re here to stay on the internet. The word became so popular that the Oxford English Dictionaries declared it the word of the year in 2013.
The Oxford definition is “A photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.” That’s a concise summary of a surprisingly divisive concept.
Some people think selfies are exercises in narcissism, while others see them as a vehicle for self-expression. Others still see them as a difficult challenge to master, since good selfies are surprisingly hard to take. Tap or click here for some proven ways to look better in selfies and group photos.
The word “noob” entered the Concise Oxford Dictionary in the same year as “woot.” It refers to a new person who doesn’t know what he or she is doing. So if someone calls you this, it might be time to put your fists up and defend your honor.
It often appears in reference to gaming or for computing activities. The word derives from the term newbie and is sometimes spelled as “newb” or “n00b” with two zeroes, particularly in the gaming world. It’s one of those new internet words you rarely hear spoken aloud; it’s mostly written down as an insult.
If you thought the shorthand term “OMG” (Oh My God) was a new invention, then you might have missed the news about it popping up in a 1917 letter to Winston Churchill. That was well before the internet age kicked in, but its use was definitely popularized with the wide adoption of text messaging.
The problem with text messages is that you sometimes need to convey a lot of information with just a few characters. “OMG” fits the bill as an exclamation that doesn’t take up much space.
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The hashtag symbol (#) has been around for a long time, but it was better known as a pound sign or number sign. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the term “hash” likely “arose as an alteration of ‘hatch,’ originally in the phrase ‘hatch mark.’”
Way back in 1961, people were already using it in computing contexts. “Hashtag” refers to that hash mark with the addition of words or phrases (not separated by spaces) used to highlight certain subject matters.
This is particularly popular on the social media site Twitter where #hashtags are #usedallthetime.
Spam is one of the most popular new internet words
Spam is not just the name of a canned meat product. It’s also the popular term for unwanted emails. It originates with a famous Monty Python comedy sketch where the oddball denizens of a cafe shout out the word repeatedly.
It first became connected to technology in the 1980s, but really blossomed as an internet term when it became associated with undesirable advertising emails. It’s a much more evocative term than “junk mail.” It’s a good thing we have effective spam filters that keep most of it out of our inboxes.
A bit of trivia: Hormel’s canned Spam first debuted in 1937. The food company won’t reveal exactly what the name means, but the brother of a Hormel Foods vice president won a naming contest and collected $100 for coming up with the unusual word. Hormel hints it could stand for “spiced ham,” but won’t confirm the rumor.
Back before tablets and smartphones, there was no need for a term like “phablet,” which references very large-screened phones that verge on being the size of small tablet computers.
The word is a simple combination of “phone” and “tablet” and it became very popular with the introduction of big phones like the Samsung Galaxy Note in 2011.
“Phablet” may be fading, though. Large phones are no longer looked at as being highly unusual. It will be interesting to see if the word has staying power in the long run.
Now that you know these new internet words, check out these guides for more tech tips
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