The English language is a flexible creation. It changes over time. New words come into being and old words disappear into obscurity. The power and reach of the internet have accelerated the process of creating and spreading new words (and old words with new meanings) far and wide across the globe.
Here are some of our favorite words popularized by the internet and the proliferation of technology. Their origins may be murky sometimes, but they perfectly sum up the inventiveness of people online and the way new terms can spread in a connected world.
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, buy items online, and 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.
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.