The use of ‘Politically Correct’ or PC has spread like wildfire during the last 20 years, to describe language, policies, or measures that are intended to avoid offense or disadvantage members of particular groups of society. The term, however, was coined much earlier than you might think.
'Politically correct' was first used in a 1783 US supreme decision Chisholm v. Georgia. Justice James Wilson wrote that the people, not the states, held the real power in the country: “To ‘The United States’ instead of to the ‘People of the United States’ is the toast given. This is not politically correct".
This term, which is in use to this day, was actually first used by the entertainment magazine Variety, to describe a very successful movie back in the 1920s! Each word on its own can be used to describe something - a movie, a song, a theater show, that is widely popular, but when both words are combined, the meaning is amplified.
The word ‘gossip’ has a surprisingly long history. It dates back to the medieval term ‘gossib’, which referred to a close friend or confidant. In the 16th century, the word assumed the meaning of a person, mostly a woman, who greatly enjoyed idle talk and was overall a busybody.
It is believed that notion originated from the childbirth customs of those days. Giving birth used to be a social event, exclusively attended by women. The female relatives and neighbors of the pregnant woman would congregate and while waiting for the baby, they would idly converse. ‘To gossip’ was first used as a verb by Shakespeare, in All’s Well That Ends Well. Over time, it came to mean the talk of others.
If you think “barbecue” is an American concept, you’re in the wrong. The US does boast a great love for burgers and hotdogs, but the origins of the term ‘barbecue’ are actually rooted in the ancient word ‘barbacoa’, from the language of a Caribbean Indian tribe called the Taino.
It first appeared in print in a Spanish explorer's account of the West Indies in 1526, and it referred to a structure of sticks for cooking meat over a fire. After a while, people started using barbacoa to refer to the process of cooking and the cooked food itself, rather than the structure.
There are quite a few ways to use the word ‘dope’, but all of them are considered slang. It could have an adjective meaning like ‘awesome’, or it could be used to describe a not-so-intelligent individual and even be a shorthand for drugs. The original meaning of the word, however, is pretty different.
Dope comes from the Dutch word doop, and accounts from 1807 define it as "sauce, gravy; any thick liquid". During the 19th century, it was mostly used to describe any mixture of unknown ingredients. The use of ‘dope’ as foolish first appeared in 1851, maybe for the notion ‘thick-headed’. The association with drugs came later, around 1890, from the practice of smoking semi-liquid opium preparation.
The word ‘influencer’ has certainly been in more frequent use recently, mainly associated with people who have a very large following on social media. But the word itself isn’t such a modern invention at all. In fact, according to multiple dictionaries, the combination of ‘influence’ and the suffix ‘-er’ dates back to the 1660s!
It was used to describe an influential person, or circumstance, essentially the same way it is used today. Of course, back then it wasn’t a job, and there was no Instagram involved...
This term, which sounds like a combination of ‘gigantic’ and ‘enormous’ has a cute ring to it; we can imagine it’s a term a kid might use to describe something very large. You might be surprised to find out that ‘ginormous’ actually has its roots in military slang, and the earliest accounts of the word were found in a British newspaper from 1942.
In the late 1880s, the word ‘dude’ was used in mockery to describe young men who were overly concerned with keeping up with the latest fashion. “For some reason, early in 1883, someone was inspired to call foppish young men of New York City ‘doods,’ with the alternate spelling ‘dudes’ soon becoming the norm.” explained forensic linguist and author Allan Metcalf. By the turn of the century, the word came to describe any guy, usually a pretty cool and laid back one.
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