Words First Used the Year You Were Born (1921-1970)

Look back at the year you were born!
Britt Britt (157)

Every year, Merriam-Webster, the leading American publisher of reference books, adds hundreds of new words to the official dictionary. While there’s no correlation between a person and a word born in the same year, a dictionary is a lot like a history book! Each new word added is an indication of what mattered to society and culture at the time. Those new words can range from technical to playful, but they still hold significance to the history of language.

In a two part series, we’ve gathered a list of words that first came into use in the year you were born, based on Merriam-Webster and other accredited documentations. Spanning seven generations, see how words changed (or didn’t) from as early as the 1920s to present day 2021.

Words are powerful tools that help shape communication between people by spurring on the creation of new ideas, spreading information, or building interpersonal connections. In fact, because languages are always expanding and changing, there can be no true or official count of how many words there are. This is especially true for words that come from other tongues but are established through use, context, and frequency in English.

This particular list features the end of The Greatest Generation to mid-Generation X, from the years 1921 to 1970. Keep in mind that these words are based off a list provided by Merriam-Webster’s and focuses on when a word was first used in print or when new definitions were added. Important events that occurred in this time span include:

  • Stock Market Crash
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat
  • The Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • U.S. Army-McCarthy Hearings
  • Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

To gain some context into the generations, below is a brief explanation of where their names came from!

The Greatest Generation: Born 1901-1924

Growing up during the Great Depression, the G.I. Generation also fought in World War II. They weren’t deemed “great” until the late ‘90s by news broadcaster Tom Brokaw, citing their moralistic attitude towards the WWII conflict. G.I. stands for “government issue” or “general issue”.

The Silent Generation: Born 1925-1945

Born into a post-war period, they’re named for not speaking out against government. They accepted the government without protest and had a general pursuit of modest careers with a focus on secure domestic lives.

Baby Boomer Generation: Born 1946-1964

Following WWII, population grew globally (aka it boomed) during this generation. They’re known for experiencing the Cold War, the moon landing, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and President John F. Kennedy, the Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement. They hold optimistic nationalism and prosperous consumerism.

Generation X: Born 1965-1980

Because their birth rate was lower than the Baby Boomers of the previous generation, Generation X is also known as “Baby Busters”. They’re characterized by reactionism, rebellion, self-reliance, and an overall mistrust of institutions and authority. Notable events of their time include the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first personal computer, and a hard emphasis on education.

If you were born after 1971 or just want a glance at history, check out part one for words first used between the years 1971 and 2021.

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1921 words
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Congress passes Budget and Accounting Act, which creates the Bureau of Budget.
  • U.S. Congress, in a joint resolution, declares WWI ended.
  • First burial is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Vitamin E is discovered.

Words of the Year

The band of frequencies (as of radio waves) on either side of the carrier frequency produced by modulation.

A woman who presides at a banquet and introduces the after-dinner speakers.

Extending or going beyond national boundaries.

1922 words
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Mussolini marches on Rome; forms Fascist government.
  • Lincoln Memorial is dedicated in Washington, D.C.
  • Coal miners strike for nearly six months to protest wage cuts, crippling the coal mining industry
  • James Joyce's Ulysses published. The U.S. Post Office destroys 500 copies of the novel.
  • Reader's Digest debuts.
  • British Egyptologists George Carnarvon and Howard Carter unearth King Tutankhamen's tomb in the Valley of the Kings
  • Insulin is isolated and used for the treatment of diabetes by Frederick Banting and Herbert Best.

Words of the Year

A smoked and usually dried jalapeño pepper.

Mad money
Discretionary money set aside for an emergency or for personal use.

White dwarf
A small hot whitish star of low intrinsic brightness, usually with a mass approximately equal to that of the sun but with a density many times larger.

1923 words
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Adolf Hitler's "Beer Hall Putsch" in Munich fails
  • Earthquake destroys one-third of Tokyo.
  • President Warren G. Harding suddenly falls ill and dies.
  • The second Ku Klux Klan movement in U.S. history grows, stirring widespread controversy and violence.
  • Russian immigrant Vladimir Kosma Zworykin patents the iconoscope, the first television transmission tube.
  • German Shepherd Rin Tin Tin becomes film's first canine star.
  • Time Magazine debuts.

Words of the Year

A person having characteristics of both extrovert and introvert.

One who serves customers at a drive-in restaurant.

Gross national product
The total value of the goods and services produced by the residents of a nation during a specified period.

1924 words
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Death of Lenin; Stalin wins power struggle.
  • Italian Fascists murder Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti.
  • Ottoman empire ends when Turkish president Mustafa Kemal ends the caliphate.
  • New York's Computer Tabulating Recording Company is re-organized and will now be known as International Business Machines Corp. (IBM).
  • Walt Disney creates his first cartoon, "Alice's Wonderland."
  • Paul Whiteman introduces George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue.
  • First Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

Words of the Year

Marked by or involving extraordinarily accurate and vivid recall especially of visual images.

Made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices.

Any of a genus (Velociraptor) of theropod dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous having a long head with a flat snout and a large sickle-shaped claw on the second toe of each foot.

1925 photos
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • John Logie Baird, Scottish inventor, transmits human features by television.
  • Adolf Hitler publishes Volume I of Mein Kampf.
  • Nellie Tayloe Ross takes office as governor of Wyoming as the first woman governor in U.S. history.
  • Tennessee schoolteacher John T. Scopes is arrested for teaching the theory of evolution, forbidden by state law.
  • Al Capone takes over the Chicago bootlegging racket.
  • Radio's The Smith Family introduces the soap opera format.
  • Ben-Hur, costing a record-setting $3.95 million to produce, is released.

Words of the Year

Éminence grise
A confidential agent, one exercising unsuspected or unofficial power.

A fly ball hit barely beyond a baseball infield.

Laundry that can be finished mechanically and does not require hand ironing.

1926 photos

Top News Stories

  • A general strike in Britain brings the nation's activities to a standstill.
  • U.S. marines are dispatched to Nicaragua during the revolt.
  • Richard E. Byrd and Floyd Bennett fly from Spitsbergen to the North Pole and back.
  • RCA, General Electric and Westinghouse establish NBC, which operates two national radio networks.
  • Martha Graham, the American pioneer of the modern-dance revolt, gives her first New York performance.
  • Auto antifreeze allows people to use cars year-round.

Words of the Year

A member of a major national and international service club.

Favoring or encouraging traditional family structures and values.

Welsh corgi
A short-legged long-backed dog with foxy head of either of two breeds of Welsh.

Fun fact: The first recorded date for Corgis appearing in the show ring in Wales is 1925.

1927 photos
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Socialists riot in Vienna; a general strike follows acquittal of Nazis for political murder.
  • Charles Lindbergh makes the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight.
  • The Holland Tunnel opens to connect Manhattan and Jersey City, N.J.
  • Popular vaudevillian Al Jolson astounds audiences with his nightclub act in The Jazz Singer, the first feature-length talkie.
  • The Broadway musical links with opera in Jerome Kern's revolutionary Show Boat.
  • Philo T. Farnsworth demonstrates the first all-electronic television.
  • Belgian astrophysicist Georges Lemaitre proposes the big bang theory.

Words of the Year

To write for and in the name of another.

Rorschach test
A projective psychological test that uses a subject's interpretation of ten standard black or colored inkblot designs to assess personality traits and emotional tendencies.

The political, economic, and social principles and policies associated with Stalin, the theory and practice of communism developed by Stalin from Marxism-Leninism, marked by rigid authoritarianism, widespread use of terror, and often emphasis on Russian nationalism.

1928 words
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Kellogg-Briand Pact, outlawing war, is signed in Paris by 65 nations.
  • Richard E. Byrd starts an expedition to Antarctic.
  • The first of Joseph Stalin's Five Year Plans imposes collectivization on agriculture in the Soviet Union.
  • Former Chicago city council member Oscar DePriest is elected to the 71st U.S. Congress and is the first black Representative to be elected in a northern state.
  • Walt Disney introduces Galloping Gaucho and Steamboat Willie, the first cartoons with sound.
  • The Academy Awards are handed out for the first time. Wings wins Best Picture.
  • Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.

Words of the Year

A percussive style of playing blues on the piano characterized by a steady rhythmic ground bass of eighth notes in quadruple time and a series of improvised melodic variations.

New economics
An economic concept that is a logical extension of Keynesianism and states that appropriate fiscal and monetary maneuvering can maintain healthy economic growth and prosperity indefinitely.

A hobbyist who creates scrapbooks of photographs, clippings, journal entries, etc., typically as a way to preserve personal experiences and memories.

1929 words
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • The Lateran Treaty establishes an independent Vatican City.
  • First large-scale Jewish-Arab violence caused by a clash at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
  • Stock market prices plummet. U.S. securities lose $26 billion, marking the first financial disaster of the Great Depression
  • The Museum of Modern Art opens in New York City.
  • CBS is founded by William S. Paley.
  • Albert Einstein proposes the unified field theory.
  • German psychiatrist Hans Berger develops the electroencephalogram (EEG) for recording brain waves.

Words of the Year

Exceptionally powerful or violent.

A sense of panic or extreme nervousness, irregular random movement (as of a pointer or an image on a television screen).

A vehicle or device designed for travel or operation outside the earth's atmosphere.

1930 words
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Britain, U.S., Japan, France, and Italy sign naval disarmament treaty.
  • Nazis gain in German elections.
  • Unemployment soars, prompting President Hoover to appoint a Commission for Unemployment Relief.
  • Crossley Inc. tabulates the first formal radio ratings system.
  • Jean Rosenthal, one of the greatest lighting designers in theater history, pioneers the concept of stage lighting.
  • As head of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America, William Hays establishes a code of decency that outlines what is acceptable in films.
  • Astronomers discover Pluto, the ninth planet.

Words of the Year

A man who plays or sings the blues.

Efficiency apartment
A small usually furnished apartment with minimal kitchen and bath facilities.

Great Depression
The period of severe worldwide economic decline that began in 1929 and lasted throughout the 1930s and that was marked by deflation and widespread unemployment.

1931 words
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Spain becomes a republic with the overthrow of King Alfonso XIII.
  • Gangster Al Capone sentenced to 11 years in prison for tax evasion.
  • Scottsboro trial begins, exposing depth of Southern racism.
  • “The Star Spangled Banner” officially becomes national anthem.
  • Double features emerge as a way for the unemployed to occupy time.
  • The Empire State Building is completed.
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art opens to the public, with 700 pieces of art.
  • General Motors's Frigidaire makes refrigerators safe for household use.
  • An electron microscope is developed by Vladimir Zworykin and James Hillier.

Words of the Year

The application of statistical methods to the study of economic data and problems.

Ghost town
A once-flourishing town wholly or nearly deserted, usually as a result of the exhaustion of some natural resource.

To observe or watch by means of a television receiver.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Famine is widespread in U.S.S.R.
  • Congress sets up Reconstruction Finance Corporation to stimulate economy.
  • Charles A. Lindbergh 's baby son kidnapped and killed.
  • Amelia Earhart is first woman to fly the Atlantic solo.
  • Veterans, known as the Bonus Marchers, march on Washington.
  • Jazz composer Duke Ellington writes "It Don't Mean a Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing," a song that presaged the swing era of the 1930s and 1940s.
  • Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall opens.
  • Physicists Sir John Douglas Cockcroft and Ernest Walton split the atom for the first time.

Words of the Year

Food web
The totality of interacting food chains in an ecological community.

Physical medicine
A medical specialty concerned with preventing, diagnosing, and treating disabling diseases, disorders, and injuries by physical means, also known as physiatry, physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The beliefs and practices of the cult of the zombie.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Reichstag fire in Berlin; Nazi terror begins.
  • Hitler becomes German chancellor.
  • Germany and Japan withdraw from League of Nations.
  • Giuseppe Zangara executed for attempted assassination of President-elect Roosevelt.
  • Prohibition repealed.
  • Edwin Armstrong introduces frequency modulation (FM), a static-free method of transmission.
  • Esquire debuts as the first men's magazine.

Words of the Year

The policy or practice of advancing one's career often at the cost of one's integrity.

High style
The newest style in fashion or design usually adopted by a limited number of people.

A sociometric chart plotting the structure of interpersonal relations in a group situation.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Chancellor Dollfuss of Austria is assassinated by Nazis.
  • U.S.S.R. admitted to League of Nations.
  • Hitler becomes Führer when chancellorship and presidency are united.
  • The Communications Act of 1934 creates the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates broadcasting.
  • Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker ambushed by lawmen in Louisiana.
  • The Dust Bowl ruins about 100 million acres and damages another 200 million acres of cropland in Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma.
  • Irene and Frederic Joliot-Curie create the first man-made radioactive substance.

Words of the Year

A flour tortilla rolled or folded around a filling (usually meat, beans, and cheese).

Urban sprawl
The spreading of urban developments (such as houses and shopping centers) on undeveloped land near a city.

Wire recorder
A magnetic recorder using a thin wire as the recording medium.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Nazis repudiate Versailles Treaty, introduce compulsory military service.
  • Mussolini invades Ethiopia; League of Nations invokes sanctions.
  • Nazis enact Nuremberg Laws against Jews to prevent "racial pollution." Heinrich Himmler starts breeding program to produce "Aryan super race."
  • Roosevelt opens second phase of New Deal in U.S., calling for social security, better housing, equitable taxation, and farm assistance.
  • Allen Lane's Penguin Press, an English publishing house, reintroduces the paperback book.
  • Du Pont chemist Wallace Hume Carothers creates nylon, the first completely synthetic fabric.

Words of the Year

Double agent
A spy pretending to serve one government while actually serving another.

Ivy Leaguer
A student at or a graduate of an Ivy League school.

Tourist class
Economy accommodations (as on a ship).

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Rome-Berlin Axis is proclaimed.
  • Spanish civil war begins.
  • War between China and Japan begins, to continue through World War II.
  • Dust Bowl problem continues in the midwest.
  • The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) debuts the world's first television service with three hours of programming a day.
  • Electric guitars debut.
  • Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind published.
  • Alexis Carrel and Charles Lindbergh develop the first artificial heart.
  • The Boulder Dam is completed.
  • The first successful helicopter flight is made.

Words of the Year

Cloud nine
A feeling of well-being or elation.

Involving or intended for more than one player, often through a shared interface.

One that sets a trend, someone or something that starts or helps to popularize a new fashion, style, movement, etc.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Italy withdraws from League of Nations.
  • Britain begins 999 emergency telephone number.
  • Japan invades China, conquers most of coastal area.
  • The dirigible "Hindenburg" explodes at Lakehurst, N.J.
  • Amelia Earhart and co-pilot Fred Noonan vanish over the Pacific Ocean on their Round-the-World Flight.
  • The Glenn Miller Band debuts in New York.
  • Walt Disney's first full-length animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, hits theaters.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge is completed.
  • A prototype "antihistamine" is produced to treat allergies.

Words of the Year

A water spectacle that usually consists of exhibitions of swimming and diving with musical accompaniment.

Behavior therapy
Psychotherapy that is concerned with the treatment of observable behaviors rather than underlying psychological processes, and that applies principles of learning to substitute desirable responses and behavior patterns for undesirable ones.

Fair-trade agreement
An agreement between a producer and a seller that commodities bearing a trademark, label, or brand name belonging to the producer be sold at or above a specified price.

Unlike a fine wine, advice columns of the 30s don't age well.
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Hitler marches into Austria; political and geographical union of Germany and Austria proclaimed.
  • Munich Pact: Britain, France, and Italy agree to let Germany partition Czechoslovakia.
  • Nazis destroy Jewish shops, homes, synagogues in Kristallnacht riots; 20,000-30,000 sent to concentration camps.
  • Orson Welles broadcasts his adaptation of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds, creating a nationwide panic as listeners believe that aliens have landed in New Jersey.
  • Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage.
  • Unexpected hurricane wreaks havoc on Long Island, N.Y. and in New England.
  • Chester F. Carlson produces the first xerographic print.
  • Teflon is developed by Roy J. Plunkett at Du Pont.
  • George and Ladislav Biro invent the ballpoint pen.

Words of the Year

Bar cookie
A sweetened baked good that is made from a dough, is typically denser than cake, and is cut into a rectangular or square shape.

A person who identifies and makes predictions about developing trends in the culture at large or in a particular field.

Urban renewal
A construction program to replace or restore substandard buildings in an urban area.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Germany invades Poland; occupies Bohemia and Moravia; renounces pact with England and concludes 10-year non-aggression pact with U.S.S.R.
  • World War II begins.
  • New York World's Fair opens.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture starts first food stamp program in Rochester, N.Y.
  • The big-screen adaptation of Gone with the Wind premieres. It's also one of the longest films at 231 minutes.
  • Robert Kane introduces the Batman cartoon.
  • Albert Einstein writes a letter to President Roosevelt regarding the possibility of using uranium to initiate a nuclear chain reaction, the fundamental process behind the atomic bomb.

Words of the Year

A debutante who has attracted such media attention as to be considered a celebrity.

Fan fiction
Stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet.

War of nerves
     noun phrase
A conflict characterized by psychological tactics (such as bluff, threats, and intimidation) designed primarily to create confusion, indecision, or breakdown of morale.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Winston Churchill becomes Britain's Prime Minister.
  • Hitler invades Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg.
  • Selective Service Act signed, otherwise known as a conscription.
  • The first Social Security benefit checks are paid out.
  • The Pennsylvania Turnpike opens. It is the first multilane U.S. superhighway.
  • The first McDonald's hamburger stand opens in Pasadena, California.
  • CBS demonstrates color television in New York.
  • WNBT, the first regularly operating television station, debuts in New York with an estimated 10,000 viewers.
  • The radio show Superman debuts.
  • The first Bugs Bunny cartoon.
  • Freeze drying is adapted for food preservation.
  • Plasma is discovered to be a substitute for whole blood in transfusions.

Words of the Year

Short for Communist, an follower or advocate of a Communist government, party, or movement.

Of, relating to, or being measures taken to combat or prevent terrorism.

Pink elephants
     plural noun
Hallucinations arising especially from heavy drinking or use of narcotics.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Germany attacks the Balkans and Russia.
  • Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor brings the U.S. into World War II; U.S. and Britain declare war on Japan.
  • Roosevelt enunciates "four freedoms" in his Jan. 6 message to Congress: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
  • Congress passes the Lend-Lease Act, giving the President the power to sell, lend, and lease war supplies to other nations.
  • Glenn Seaborg and Edwin McMillan isolate plutonium, a fuel preferable to uranium for nuclear reactors.
  • RCA demonstrates a new simplified electron microscope that magnifies up to 100,000 times.

Words of the Year

A gathering usually characterized by informal conversation.

Used in radio and signaling to indicate that a message has been received and understood.

Space opera
A futuristic melodramatic fantasy involving space travelers and extraterrestrial beings.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Declaration of United Nations is signed in Washington.
  • More than 120,000 Japanese and persons of Japanese ancestry living in western U.S. moved to "relocation centers”.
  • Women's military services established.
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, first health maintenance organization (HMO), begins in Oakland, California.
  • Casablanca premieres in theaters.
  • Bing Crosby releases "White Christmas," from the film Holiday Inn.
  • RCA Victor sprays gold over Glenn Miller's million-copy-seller Chattanooga Choo Choo, creating the first "gold record."
  • Radar comes into operational use.
  • The U.S. government establishes the Manhattan Project, led by Robert Oppenheimer, to coordinate ongoing American efforts to design and build the atomic bomb.

Words of the Year

An off-the-record briefing for reporters, something (such as an essay) that provides background information about a particular subject.

A very large high-explosive bomb or one that is notably expensive, effective, successful, large, or extravagant.

Whiz kid
A person who is unusually intelligent, clever, or successful especially at an early age.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Churchill and Roosevelt hold the Casablanca Conference.
  • Mussolini is deposed and placed under arrest.
  • President freezes prices, salaries, and wages to prevent inflation.
  • Withholding tax on wages introduced.
  • The Pentagon is completed and becomes the largest office building in the world.
  • The Chinese Exclusion Acts of 1882 and 1902 are repealed permitting immigration and naturalization of Chinese.
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma! opens and changes American musical theater by combining entertainment and serious subjects.
  • Selman Waksman discovers streptomycin and coins the term antibiotic.
  • Doctors begin to use the pap test to detect cervical cancer.

Words of the Year

Delivery of cargo, emergency supplies, or personnel by parachute from an airplane in flight.

Operations research
The application of scientific and especially mathematical methods to the study and analysis of problems involving complex systems.

A large complex governmental agency especially when set up to supervise other agencies.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Allies invade Normandy on D-Day.
  • Bretton Woods Conference creates International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
  • Battle of the Bulge begins as Germans penetrate Allied front in Belgium.
  • Anne Frank and her family are betrayed and sent to concentration camps.
  • Dumbarton Oaks Conference: U.S., British Commonwealth, and U.S.S.R. propose establishment of United Nations.
  • GI Bill of Rights is passed, providing benefits for armed-service veterans.
  • Scientists at Harvard University construct the first automatic, general-purpose digital computer.
  • DNA is isolated by Oswald Avery.
  • The Germans develop the V-2, the first true missile.

Words of the Year

Wordy and generally unintelligible jargon.

Security Council
A permanent council of the United Nations with primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security.

A wild, lively, or lavish party.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Yalta Conference plans final defeat of Germany.
  • Hitler commits suicide; Germany surrenders.
  • San Francisco Conference establishes the United Nations.
  • US drops atomic bombs on Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
  • FDR dies and Harry S. Truman becomes president.
  • Manhattan Project successfully detonates the first atomic bomb at Alamagordo, NM.
  • A B-25 bomber flies into the Empire State Building, killing 13.
  • ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator), the first all-electronic computer, completed.
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan becomes the first community to fluoridate its water supply.
  • Raymond Libby develops oral penicillin.

Words of the Year

Short for atomic bomb, a bomb whose violent explosive power is due to the sudden release of energy resulting from the splitting of nuclei of a heavy chemical element (such as plutonium or uranium) by neutrons in a very rapid chain reaction.

Cold war
A conflict over ideological differences carried on by methods short of sustained overt military action and usually without breaking off diplomatic relations.

A paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • First meeting of United Nations General Assembly opens in London.
  • Italy abolishes monarchy.
  • The Philippines gains independence from the United States.
  • Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech warns of Soviet expansion.
  • US Atomic Energy Commission is established.
  • Worst work stoppages since 1919, with coal, electrical, and steel industries hit hardest.
  • The Cannes Film Festival debuts in France.
  • George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein establish the New York City Ballet.
  • The Best Years of Our Lives debuts, and is immediately recognized as a classic post-War film.
  • The US Army makes radar contact with the moon for the first time.

Words of the Year

A seismic event on the moon.

Slang for drunk or intoxicated.

Slag for joke or gag, doing it for the laugh.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Peace treaties for Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland signed in Paris.
  • Soviet Union rejects US plan for UN atomic-energy control.
  • India and Pakistan gain independence from Britain.
  • Hollywood "Black List" created by HUAC.
  • Truman Doctrine proposes "containment" of communist expansion.
  • The Yankees beat the Dodgers in seven games in the first televised World Series.
  • Meet the Press debuts on NBC. The first news show will become television's longest-running program.
  • Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire opens at Broadway's Ethel Barrymore Theatre.
  • The microwave oven is invented by Percy Spencer.

Words of the Year

The state or fact of being a geek, otherwise known as an enthusiast or expert in a technological field or activity.

Prime time
The time period when the television or radio audience is the largest.

Known from the Tony Awards, a medallion awarded annually by a professional organization for notable achievement in the theater.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Gandhi assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu militant.
  • Communists seize power in Czechoslovakia.
  • Truman ends racial segregation in the U.S. military.
  • Margaret Sanger founds the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
  • The Hollywood Ten, a group of writers, producers and directors called as witnesses in the House Committee's Investigation of Un-American Activities, are jailed for contempt of Congress when they refuse to disclose if they were or were not Communists.
  • Columbia Records introduces the 33 1/3 LP ("long playing") record at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
  • George A. Gamow puts forth the "Big Bang" theory to explain the origin of the universe.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is established under UN auspices.

Words of the Year

Of, relating to, or designed for use in grades 1 to 12.

A hairstyle in which the hair on each side is slicked back to meet in a ridge at the back of the head.

Failing to accord with the values or styles of a particular group, not accepted or admired as cool or proper.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Twelve nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO.
  • Communist People's Republic of China formally proclaimed by Chairman Mao Zedong.
  • South Africa institutionalizes apartheid.
  • Britain recognizes the independence of the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland remains a part of the United Kingdom.
  • The first Emmy Awards are handed out, with Pantomime Quiz Time earning top honor as the Most Popular Television Program.
  • Cable television debuts, bringing better reception to rural areas where the conventional television signal is weak.
  • Milton Berle hosts the first telethon, which benefits cancer research.
  • The Soviet Union begins testing atomic weapons.

Words of the Year

Known from the Emmy Awards, a statuette awarded annually by a professional organization for notable achievement in television.

Jet set
An international social group of wealthy individuals who frequent fashionable resorts.

A long television program, usually to solicit funds especially for a charity.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Korean War begins when North Korean Communist forces invade South Korea.
  • Communist Chinese forces invade Tibet.
  • Truman orders development of hydrogen bomb.
  • Era of McCarthyism begins.
  • Saturday morning children's programming begins.
  • Phonevision, the first pay-per-view service, becomes available.
  • Broadway classic Guys and Dolls debuts at the 46th Street Theatre and becomes an instant hit.
  • Charles Schulz introduces the Peanuts comic strip.
  • The first Xerox machine is produced.
  • The first self-service elevator is installed by Otis Elevator in Dallas.

Words of the Year

Bug out
To retreat during a military action, especially in a panic.

Short for hydrogen bomb, a bomb whose violent explosive power is due to the sudden release of atomic energy resulting from the fusion of light nuclei (as of hydrogen atoms) at very high temperature and pressure to form helium nuclei.

Sticky wicket
A difficult or delicate problem or situation.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Seoul falls first to Communist forces, then to US-led UN troops. Despite peace talks, the Korean War continues.
  • Japanese peace treaty signed in San Francisco by 49 nations.
  • Libya gains independence from Italy.
  • 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution, limiting the number of terms a president may serve, is ratified.
  • Color television introduced in the U.S.
  • Charles F. Blair, Jr. makes the first solo flight across North Pole.
  • UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer), the first business computer to handle both numeric and alphabetic data, is introduced.
  • The first nuclear power plant is built by the US Atomic Energy Commission.

Words of the Year

Murphy’s Law
An observation, anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

Minute and usually unjustified criticism.

Involving, encompassing, or extending across two or more cultures.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • George VI of England dies; his daughter becomes Elizabeth II.
  • NATO conference approves European army. Greece and Turkey join NATO.
  • Britain announces its development of atomic weapons.
  • US explodes first thermonuclear bomb at Enewetak Island.
  • 56 million watch Richard Nixon's "Checker's speech" on TV.
  • Television's first magazine-format program, the Today Show, debuts on NBC with Dave Garroway hosting.
  • The Jackie Gleason Show (The Honeymooners) debuts on CBS, beginning a two-decade run.
  • The first plastic artificial heart valve is developed at Georgetown Medical Center.

Words of the Year

Wordy and generally unintelligible jargon.

Dust bunny
An aggregate of dust.

Mother hen
A person who assumes an overly protective maternal attitude.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Joseph Stalin dies.
  • East Berliners rise against Communist rule; quelled by tanks.
  • Korean armistice signed.
  • Moscow announces explosion of hydrogen bomb.
  • Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower inaugurated President of United States.
  • Alleged Communist Charlie Chaplin leaves U.S. for good. Justice Dept. warns him any attempt to reenter the country will be challenged.
  • The first issue of TV Guide magazine hits the newsstands on April 3 in 10 cities.
  • Lucille Ball gives birth to Desi Arnaz, Jr. on same day the fictional Little Ricky is born on I Love Lucy.
  • First successful open-heart surgery is performed in Philadelphia.

Words of the Year

to convert something (such as data or an image) to digital form.

One who evades work or responsibility.

Pleasantly or comfortably warm.

This vehicle is called The Rhino!
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Geneva Conference is convened to bring peace to Vietnam.
  • Paris agreements grant West Germany sovereignty and admittance to NATO and Western European Union.
  • Algerian War of Independence against France begins.
  • In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the Supreme Court unanimously bans racial segregation in public schools.
  • The World Series is broadcast in color for the first time.
  • The revenue for television broadcasters finally surpasses that of radio broadcasters.
  • Boeing tests the 707, the first jet-powered transport plane.
  • The Fellowship of the Ring is published by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Words of the Year

Fight song
A song used to inspire enthusiasm usually during an athletic competition.

New York minute
A very brief span of time.

TV dinner
A quick-frozen packaged dinner (as of meat, potatoes, and a vegetable) that requires only heating before it is served.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • The Soviet Union and seven East European countries sign the Warsaw Pact, a mutual defense treaty.
  • US starts sending $216 million in aid to Vietnam.
  • The US, UK, USSR, and France meet at a summit in Geneva.
  • Rosa Parks refuses to sit at the back of the bus, breaking Montgomery, Ala., segregated seating law. Martin Luther King, Jr., leads 381-day black boycott of Montgomery bus system.
  • On the Waterfront nearly sweeps the 1954 Academy Awards.
  • Gunsmoke debuts on CBS, and will go on to be television's longest-running western.
  • James Dean dies in a car accident at age 26.
  • Narinder Kapany develops fiber optics.

Words of the Year

Short for do-it-yourself, the activity of doing or making something without professional training or assistance.

Soft serve
a smooth semisolid ice cream that contains less milk fat than regular ice cream and is made in and dispensed from a freezer in which it is aerated and continuously churned.

Used to express disappointment, annoyance, or surprise.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Morocco gains independence from France and Spain.
  • Workers' uprising against Communist rule in Poland is crushed.
  • Soviet troops and tanks crush anti-Communist uprisings in Hungary.
  • Autherine Lucy, the first black student at the University of Alabama, is suspended after riots.
  • U.S. tests the first aerial hydrogen bomb over Namu islet, Bikini Atoll with the force of 10 million tons TNT.
  • With many hit singles, Elvis Presley emerges as one of the world's first rock stars.
  • The Wizard of Oz has its first airing on TV.
  • The DNA molecule is first photographed.

Words of the Year

Decaffeinated coffee.

Overwhelmed with wonder, surprise, or shock.

     adjective or noun
Not anything or value, another word for zero or nothing.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • The USSR tests its first successful ICBM guided missile.
  • Russia launches Sputnik I, first earth-orbiting satellite, the Space Age begins.
  • Eisenhower Doctrine calls for aid to Mideast countries that resist armed aggression from Communist-controlled nations.
  • Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story debuts on Broadway and brings violence to the stage.
  • Eugene O'Neill's A Long Day's Journey Into Night is produced posthumously and wins both the Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize.
  • Leave It to Beaver premieres on CBS, ushering in an era of television shows that depict the ideal American.
  • Clarence W. Lillehie and Earl Bakk invent the internal pacemaker.

Words of the Year

Quite pleased or delighted.

Clip art
Ready-made usually copyright-free illustrations sold in books, as part of a software package, or through a website from which they may be cut and pasted or inserted as artwork.

The production or reproduction of audio characterized by an unpolished or rough sound quality.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Egypt and Syria merge into United Arab Republic.
  • Army's Jupiter-C rocket fires first US satellite, Explorer I, into orbit.
  • Eisenhower orders US Marines into Lebanon at request of President Chamoun, who fears overthrow.
  • Billboard debuts its Hot 100 chart. Ricky Nelson's "Poor Little Fool" boasts the first No. 1 record.
  • Elvis Presley is inducted into the U.S. Army.
  • First transatlantic jet passenger service started by BOAC, with a New York to London route.
  • The existence of the Van Allen Belt, a radiation belt surrounding the Earth, is confirmed by the Explorer I satellite.
  • NASA initiates Project Mercury, aimed at putting a man in space within two years.

Words of the Year

A person who participated in a social movement of the 1950s and early 1960s which stressed artistic self-expression and the rejection of the mores of conventional society.

Concrete poetry
Poetry in which the poet's intent is conveyed by the graphic patterns of letters, words, or symbols rather than by the conventional arrangement of words.

Test ban
A self-imposed partial or complete ban on the testing of nuclear weapons that is mutually agreed to by countries possessing such weapons.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Cuban President Batista resigns and flees. Fidel Castro assumes power.
  • Tibet's Dalai Lama escapes to India
  • Alaska and Hawaii become the 49th and 50th states.
  • St. Lawrence Seaway opens, allowing ocean ships to reach Midwest.
  • The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences sponsors the first Grammy Award ceremony for music recorded in 1958. Frank Sinatra wins his first Grammy Award.
  • The US Navy launches the Vanguard satellite.
  • The Lunik II probe (USSR) reaches the moon; Lunik III photographs the dark side of the moon for the first time.

Words of the Year

     plural noun
Low-slung usually close-fitting trousers that rest on the hips.

A clumsy person.

Soul music
Music that originated in African American gospel singing, is closely related to rhythm and blues, and is characterized by intensity of feeling and vocal embellishments.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • American U-2 spy plane, piloted by Francis Gary Powers, shot down over Russia. Khrushchev kills Paris summit conference because of this.
  • Communist China and Soviet Union split in conflict over Communist ideology.
  • Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Madagascar, and Zaire (Belgian Congo) gain independence.
  • John F. Kennedy defeats Richard Nixon in a closely-fought presidential race.
  • Black sit-in at Greensboro, N.C., diner receives national attention.
  • Ninety percent of U.S. homes have a television set.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho terrifies movie-goers and becomes one of the year's most successful films.
  • The first working laser is built by T. H. Maiman.
  • Echo I, the first communications satellite, is launched.
  • NASA launches Tiros I, the first weather satellite.

Words of the Year

A nightclub for dancing to popular music.

A bionic human.

A cozy quality that makes a person feel content and comfortable.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • US breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba.
  • East Germany erects the Berlin Wall between East and West Berlin to halt flood of refugees.
  • USSR detonates 50-megaton hydrogen bomb in the largest man-made explosion in history.
  • Robert Frost recites "The Gift Outright" at John F. Kennedy's inauguration.
  • First US astronaut, Navy Cmdr. Alan B. Shepard, Jr., rockets 116.5 miles up in 302-mile trip.
  • West Side Story is adapted for the big screen.
  • Audrey Hepburn delights as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's.
  • Moscow announces putting first man in orbit around earth, Major Yuri A. Gagarin.
  • Alan B. Shepard becomes the first American man in space aboard the Freedom 7.

Words of the Year

The techniques and procedures of espionage.

In excess.

A hybrid between a zebra and a donkey.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Cuban Missile Crisis: USSR to build missile bases in Cuba; Kennedy orders Cuban blockade, lifts blockade after Russia backs down.
  • Pope John XXIII opens Second Vatican Council.
  • Burundi, Jamaica, Western Samoa, Uganda, and Trinidad and Tobago become independent.
  • James H. Meredith, escorted by federal marshals, registers at University of Mississippi.
  • Marilyn Monroe dies of a drug overdose at age 36.
  • The first transatlantic television transmission occurs via the Telstar Satellite, making worldwide television and cable networks a reality.
  • Johnny Carson takes over hosting duties of The Tonight Show.

Words of the Year

The automatic control of a process or operation (as in manufacturing) by means of computers.

A woman's short skirt with the hemline several inches above the knee.

Very fashionable.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • France and West Germany sign treaty of cooperation ending four centuries of conflict.
  • Washington-to-Moscow "hot line" communications link opens, designed to reduce risk of accidental war.
  • Kenya achieves independence.
  • 32 independent African nations establish the Organization for African Unity.
  • US Supreme Court rules no locality may require recitation of Lord's Prayer or Bible verses in public schools.
  • "March on Washington," civil rights rally held by 200,000 in Washington, D.C.; Martin Luther King delivers "I have a dream" speech.
  • President Kennedy shot and killed in Dallas, TX. Lee Harvey Oswald, accused Kennedy assassin, is shot and killed by Jack Ruby.
  • Beatlemania hits the U.K. The Beatles take Britain by storm. The Rolling Stones emerge as the anti-Beatles, with an aggressive, blues-derived style.
  • The French Chef with Julia Child debuts on educational television.
  • The first commercial nuclear reactor goes online at the Jersey Central Power Company.
  • The sedative Valium (chlordiazepoxide) is developed by Roche labs.

Words of the Year

Bobblehead doll
A doll having a head that makes repeated bobbing movements.

A problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule.

Checkbook journalism
The practice of paying someone for a news story and especially for granting an interview.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Nelson Mandela sentenced to life imprisonment in South Africa.
  • Congress approves Gulf of Tonkin Resolution after North Vietnamese torpedo boats allegedly attack US destroyers.
  • China detonates its first atomic bomb.
  • US Supreme Court rules that Congressional districts should be roughly equal in population.
  • Folk musician Bob Dylan becomes increasingly popular during this time of social protest with songs expressing objection to the condition of American society.
  • Psychedelic bands such as The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane have great success with songs celebrating the counterculture of the '60s.
  • Peyton Place premieres on ABC and is the first prime-time soap opera. Color television makes its way into U.S. homes.
  • US Surgeon General Luther Terry affirms that cigarette smoking causes cancer.

Words of the Year

The power to attract through personal magnetism and charm.

Graphical novel
A story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book.

A woman's ensemble consisting usually of a long jacket and pants of the same material.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • The first US combat troops arrive in Vietnam.
  • France withdraws its Atlantic fleet from NATO.
  • Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more than 2,600 others arrested in Selma, AL., during demonstrations against voter-registration rules.
  • Malcolm X, black-nationalist leader, shot to death at Harlem rally.
  • The Sound of Music premieres. An instant hit, the film was one of the top-grossing films of 1965 and remains one of film's most popular musicals.
  • ABC pays an unprecedented $32 million for a four-year contract with the NCAA to broadcast football games on Saturday afternoons.
  • Bill Cosby, starring in I Spy, becomes the first African American to headline a television show.
  • Soviet cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov performs the first spacewalk. Edward White II becomes the first American to walk in space a few months later.

Words of the Year

A small movie house specializing in avant-garde films.

A usually young person who rejects the mores of established society (as by dressing unconventionally or favoring communal living) and advocates a nonviolent ethic.

The unknown perpetrator of a crime.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • France withdraws its forces from NATO.
  • India suffers the worst famine in 20 years; Lyndon Johnson asks for $1 billion in aid to the country.
  • Medicare begins.
  • Supreme Court decides Miranda v. Arizona, resulting in the Miranda Rights for protecting rights of the accused.
  • The first Star Trek episode, "The Man Trap," is broadcast.
  • Walt Disney dies from lung cancer.
  • MIT biochemist Har Khorana finishes deciphering the DNA code.

Words of the Year

Found poem
A poem consisting of words found in a nonpoetic context (such as a product label) and usually broken into lines that convey a verse rhythm.

A shift in cultural norms influenced by the values, tastes, and mores of young people.

An unusually large number of debates and votes that happen in one day on a single piece of legislation to which an unlimited number of amendments can be introduced, debated, and voted on.

One of the first traveling bookstores!
Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • Communist China announces explosion of its first hydrogen bomb.
  • The US and USSR propose a nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
  • Israeli and Arab forces battle; Six-Day War ends with Israel occupying Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and West Bank.
  • Thurgood Marshall sworn in as first black US Supreme Court justice.
  • Congress creates PBS.
  • Rolling Stone and New York Magazine debut, spawning the popularity of special-interest and regional magazines.

Words of the Year

Another term for a biker or someone who rides a motorcycle.

Slang for a marijuana cigarette.

Yada yada
Boring or empty talk.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • North Korea seizes US Navy ship Pueblo; holds 83 on board as spies.
  • North Vietnamese launch the Tet Offensive, a turning point in the Vietnam War.
  • President Johnson announces he will not seek or accept presidential renomination.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, is slain in Memphis. James Earl Ray, indicted in the murder and is sentenced to 99 years.
  • Sen. Robert F. Kennedy is shot and critically wounded in Los Angeles hotel after winning California primary.
  • 60 Minutes airs on CBS, beginning its reign as the longest-running prime-time newsmagazine.
  • The motion picture rating system debuts with G, PG, R and X.
  • The rock musical Hair opens on Broadway.
  • The largest reservoir of American petroleum north of Mexico is discovered in Alaska.
  • The successful flight of Apollo 8 marks the first people to orbit the moon.

Words of the Year

Data mining
The practice of searching through large amounts of computerized data to find useful patterns or trends.

Peace dividend
A portion of funds made available for nondefense spending by a reduction in the defense budget (as after a war).

A person belonging to or identified with a politically active group of hippies.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • The United States, USSR, and about 100 other countries sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty (NPT).
  • Russian and Chinese troops clash along the Ussuri River.
  • Richard M. Nixon is inaugurated 37th President of the US.
  • Stonewall riot in New York City marks beginning of gay rights movement.
  • Apollo 11 astronauts take first walk on the Moon.
  • Children's Television Workshop introduces Sesame Street.
  • The FCC bans all cigarette advertising on television and radio.
  • The scanning electron microscope is developed.
  • The use of insecticides (DDT) is banned in residential areas.

Words of the Year

Advocacy journalism
Journalism that advocates a cause or expresses a viewpoint.

Urban popular music originating in Nigeria in the late 1960s that emphasizes percussion rhythms and features elements of jazz and funk and lyrics which are often strongly political.

A person who works (as by moving heavy equipment) for traveling entertainers.

Rare Historical Photos

Top News Stories

  • A Palestinian revolt erupts in Jordan. Forces loyal to King Hussein suppress the revolt and expel the PLO from the country.
  • Earthquake kills more than 50,000 in Peru.
  • Four students at Kent State University in Ohio slain by National Guardsmen at demonstration protesting incursion into Cambodia.
  • The Beatles break up. By the end of the year, each member had released a solo album.
  • Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin both die drug-related deaths at age 27.
  • FCC regulations require separate ownership of television networks and studios.
  • Monday Night Football debuts on ABC.
  • Midnight Cowboy wins the Best Picture Oscar, the first and only time an X-rated movie received the honor.
  • IBM introduces the floppy disk.
  • Bar codes (computer-scanned binary signal code) are introduced for retail and industrial use in England.
  • The LCD (liquid crystal display) is invented by Hoffmann-La Roche.

Words of the Year

In low spirits.

Short for afro, a hairstyle of tight curls in a full evenly rounded shape.

Slang for pizza.

Look back at the year you were born!
Britt Britt (157)

Words are powerful and intriguing things. They shape communication between people by spurring on the creation of new ideas, spreading information, or building interpersonal connections.