Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s

One of the most fascinating and fun ways to mark the passing of time and the cultural changes that it brings is language. In 2020 alone, the coronavirus pandemic is responsible for an array of new terms to enter our lives, such as 'social distancing' and 'contact tracing'. It seems that novelty wears fast; the moment a new term or word spreads, it feels like it has always been around, a natural part of life. But when you dig a little deeper, you find out that it often isn't the case. Take a look at these 13 common everyday terms that didn't exist at all before the 1970s - meaning they've only been in use for a tiny fraction of history!
1.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, factoid

The term ‘factoid’ was coined by author Norman Mailer in his 1973 biography of Marilyn Monroe, and in his words, it means "facts which have no existence before appearing in a magazine or newspaper, creations that are not so much lies as a product to manipulate emotion in the Silent Majority."

Exactly how much truth there is in factoids is a question that has been widely debated. The Washington Times defined factoids as "something that looks like a fact, could be a fact, but in fact, is not a fact". According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the meaning is ‘quasi-fact’. 

2.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, watergate

Prior to 1972, Watergate was just a luxury hotel and office complex in Washington. To those of you who need a reminder, on June 17, 1972, the police arrested five burglars at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in the Watergate office-apartment-hotel. The Nixon administration continuously tried to hide its involvement in the break-in, but the event culminated in President Nixon’s scandal-driven resignation. 

Now the term ‘Watergate’, and sometimes just the suffix ‘-gate’ became a way of pointing out corruption. If a scandal has the word ‘-gate’ added to it, like ‘Beidgegate’ for example, you know no good is going to come out of it...

Related: 10 Modern Words Included in The Dictionary This Decade

3.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, gigabyte
You might think of Gigabyte as strictly a 21st-century word, but according to Marriam-Webster, it was first minted in 1975. Gigabytes, sometimes abbreviated "gigs," are often used to measure storage capacity. Back in the day, however, this measurement unit was purely theoretical, as most technological specs were measured in Kilobytes (1/1,024,000th of a gigabyte).
4.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, downsize
Do you remember when in 1975, General Motors made the “decision to downsize”? Meaning, from then on the company was going to focus on smaller and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks. But more interestingly, this was the first time many Americans had heard the odd word ‘downsize’. It was a stroke of advertisement genius - after all, to downsize sounds much more friendly and less scary than words like “eliminate” or “terminate”.
5.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, earworm

You know that moment when you catch yourself humming the same tune, that’s been stuck in your head since the morning? When a song gets stuck in our head like that, we call it an ‘earworm’. But that word didn't even exist until 1978 when it was first used by author Desmond Bagley in his novel Flyaway. 

"I fell into a blind, mindless rhythm, and a chant was created in my mind, what the Germans call an 'earworm,'" he wrote. "Something that goes round and round in your head, and you can't get rid of it. One bloody foot before the next bloody foot."

Related: 12 Old and New Slang Words That Sound Kind of Silly

6.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, email
Naturally, there was no word for ‘e-mail’ when emails did not exist, and sending a message to someone far away required a pen and a paper, and even a trip to the post office. In 1979 the first Email program was developed by none other than a 14-year-old prodigy named Shiva Ayyadurai. It was designed to send electronic messages within the departments of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. It is believed that it was the first-ever use of this name, and Ayyadurai later copyrighted it in 1982.
7.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, 911

Okay, 911 may technically not be a word, but it has a universal meaning everyone knows: Help! In the US, the first catalyst for a nationwide emergency telephone number was in 1957 when the National Association of Fire Chiefs recommended the use of a single number for reporting fires. In 1968, AT&T in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it would establish the digits 9-1-1 (nine-one-one) as the emergency code throughout the country. The reason this was the chosen code was that it was brief and easily remembered but also unique, as it hadn't yet been used in that combination for an area code.

The first-ever call to 911 was made in 1968 in Haleyville, Alabama. By 1972, 911 became ingrained into the brain of every man, woman, and child. 

8.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, endorphin
Saying you had an ‘endorphin rush’ after a workout is a very commonplace statement, but did you know that before the mid-1970s, we didn’t even know of endorphins' existence? We have chemist Choh Li to thank for this revelation. In 1975, Li isolated the biochemical from the pituitary gland and discovered that, when injected into the brain, it was "48 times more powerful than morphine."
9.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, granola
Granola itself had been around for 100 years before the term was actually coined. In 1870 Dr. John Kellogg created a health food some deemed ‘disgusting’, that was so chewy and dense, it had to be spanked overnight in milk before eating. In 1972 Jim Matson invented the first corporate granola, Heartland Natural Cereal- which turned out to be a major cultural event. Over time granola became shorthand for ‘healthy breakfast’. 
10.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, karaoke
This is how Daisuke Inoue, the inventor of karaoke, explained his creation: "A regular jukebox is for listening, this would be a jukebox for singing.” The word karaoke is derived from 2 Japanese words, ‘kara’ comes from the word ‘karappo’ meaning empty or void, and ‘oke’ comes from the word ‘okesutura’ or orchestra. This jukebox for singing became hugely popular in Japan during the early 70s, and the craze soon spread around the world. Sadly, Inoue never made a dime from his history-making innovation.
11.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, woke
Being ‘woke’ means being acutely aware of social or cultural injustices, and many would connote the word entirely with the 21st century. However, the whole concept of wokeness originated with a 1971 play by Barry Beckham called Garvey Lives, about the Jamaican-born Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey. As one character announces, “I been sleeping all my life. And now that Mr. Garvey done woke me up, I'm gon stay woke”. 
12.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, asbesots
Asbestos gained its bad reputation among homeowners when the Environmental Protection Agency first started banning building materials containing it, due to the risk it imposes on breathing and overall health. It only took one decade, the 1970s, for everyone to know and fear the word asbestos. 
13.Popular Terms That Didn't Exist Before the 1970s, ATM

The very first Automated Teller Machine (ATM) opened at a Barclays branch in Enfield, a suburb of London, in 1967. However, the acronym itself, which is such frequent use today, only came to being a couple of years later, in the early 1970s when Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, New York launched their own ATM. As the ads for the new machine promised, "Our banks will open at 9 am and never close again."


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