‘SUV,’ ‘Spreadsheet’ & 48 Other Words Born in the ’80s
Each year, thousands of new words enter our mainstream vernacular—but only a lucky few are added to the dictionary each year. In order to be appended to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, words are judged by their usage rates, with only the most-used and most-cited terms making the cut.
In September 2018, Merriam-Webster added more than 840 new words to the dictionary. These new words often give insight into American culture. For example, words like “Instagramming,” “airplane mode,” and “biohacking” indicate the importance of technology in society while abbreviated terms like “guac” and “adorbs” showcase shortened terms permeating colloquial speech.
To see which words helped to define decades past, Stacker compiled a list of 50 new words born in the 1980s. To do this, Stacker used Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler feature to find five new words first written or published for each year from 1980 to 1989. The list is ranked chronologically by Merriam-Webster's first known use date and then by alphanumeric order.
It's important to note that words on this list were written or printed in English for the first time in the 1980s. However, these words could have been used for decades before being documented for the first time. For example, “Benedict” has been used for centuries as a forename as and a term to describe newly married men, but its first known use date to describe eggs occurred in 1984. Merriam-Webster's first known use date is subject to change.