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25 Words Turning 25 in 2017

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If you were born in 1992, not only are you as old as the Mall of America, the nicotine patch, and Super Mario Kart, you got to grow up with these words, all dated by first citation to 1992 in the Oxford English Dictionary.


It was a time when people started going on vacation before the vacation even started by clipping off a whole syllable and saying they were going on vacay.


This blend of trust fund and Rastafarian got a first mention in the Washington Times, where it was defined as a “guy who has long hair and a trust fund, drives a Saab or Jeep, listens to reggae, and doesn't let a whole lot bother him.”


The image editing program Photoshop was released in 1990. By 1992, the name had become a verb, to Photoshop.


This blend of square and oval was formed to name the hot manicure style of 1992, a squared-off oval nail shape.


First there was sleazy, which has been around since 1644. In 1976, we got skeevy, and after we added skeeze in 1989, it was inevitable that we’d come around to skeezy eventually.


According to the OED, a sadster is “a pathetic or contemptible person.” According to the Urban Dictionary it’s “an emo dude who is always downbeat, yet more earnest and cooler than you. Basically a hipster sad-sack.”


This term for “the fact of having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals” first appeared in a 1992 proposal for a new Usenet group on the subject.


Politicians and organizations have always come up with plans to get their positions across to the public, but it wasn’t until 25 years ago that they referred directly to those plans with comments about staying on message.


Metaverse, from meta-universe, became a term for virtual worlds after it was introduced by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel Snow Crash.

10. MEH

The word meh was not invented in 1992. It’s a Yiddishism that goes back a long way. But it first shows up in attested written form in a 1992 Usenet post about the TV show Melrose Place with “Meh … far too Ken-doll for me.”


Just 25 years ago, we needed a special term for a habitual internet user. This blend of internet and astronaut was the answer. Now we don’t need a special word for this, because it’s all of us.


This blend of grrr and girl was first applied to the "riot girl" feminist punk movement. By 1992, it was a general term for “a young woman perceived as strong or aggressive, esp. in her attitude to men or in her expression of feminine independence and sexuality.”


The ethical problem of renegade hobbyists playing around with genes was something worrying enough to warrant the creation of the term biohacking in 1992.


The new possibilities of genetic manipulation also gave rise to the idea of “Frankenstein food”—food that had been irradiated or genetically modified. In 1992, the Franken- detached and became its own prefix in words like Frankenfood and Frankenfruit.


Another prefix achieved independence from alternative in 1992. First applied to music styles like alternapop, alterna-rock, and alterna-metal, it also became a way to describe alternadads and alternateens who were into alternathings.


The '90s supermodel years brought the whole fashion industry into the popular imagination, and this term, so much more worldly and evocative than “fashion industry employee,” gained its high-heeled foothold in the vocabulary.


The '60s gave us the idea of the jet-setting glitterati, and the '90s gave us the digerati, from digital + literati, for the computing and information technology class.


The first new word coinages with cyber- (from the 1948 term cybernetic) started in the 1960s, but cyberwar gets its first print citation with a 1992 Chicago Sun-Times article header: “Cyberwar debate: a new generation of ‘brilliant weapons’ has sparked a debate between scientists and the military about who should wage war, man or machine.”


The original citation for bootylicious is from a 1992 line rapped by the then-called Snoop Doggy Dogg (“Them rhymes you were kickin were quite bootylicious”) where it had a negative meaning—weak. Later it came to be a positive word for shapely and attractive.


Badass had been around since 1955, but in 1992, it got extended into the abstract noun for the whole general quality of being a badass.


Billy Ray Cyrus had a hit with his 1992 song “Achy Breaky Heart,” and achy breaky went on to a life of meaning generally sad in a country, twangy, way.


This blend of eat and entertainment was formed to put a simple label on a new '90s trend of theme restaurants that included entertainment, memorabilia, and gift shops.


Another blend for a type of bar/nightclub that also serves food, from restaurant + bar plus a hip, European feel.


A DJ might spin records, but in 1992, the manipulation of the turntables for effect with scratching, mixing, etc. was elevated to its own type of art from with the word turntablist.

25. URL

The Uniform Resource Locator, a format for specifying a web address, wasn't yet a standard in 1992, but it was mentioned, and called a URL, in a 1992 electronic mailing list post of minutes from an Internet Engineering Task Force meeting.

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Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]


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