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Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler Tool Shows You Words That Came Into Print The Year You Were Born

A fascinating look at slang, technology, pop-culture, and gender identity.
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Aren't words wonderful?

We use them to tell tales, express our feelings, and record history.

But what happens when we look at the history of words — specifically, at what point certain words first appeared in the English lexicon?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary has introduced an online tool called Time Traveler that allows anyone to search words and phrases that first appeared in writing or print the year they were born.

It's a fascinating look at the evolution of the Internet, biomedicine, gender identity, ridiculous pop-culture references, and slang. It also gives us some surprising insights.

For instance, "text messaging" was first seen in print in 1982, one year before "cell phone." And the word "meh" didn't make a print appearance until 1992.

You weren't calling your closest friend your "bestie" until at least 1991, the same year that "gift card" and "soul patch" appeared.

Some of the entries will just make you feel old AF — "loonie" first came into our vernacular in 1987, and we've been talking about "baristas", "e-mail", and "turducken" since 1982.

For those born between 1981 and 2000, check out some of the words that first appeared in print the year you came into existence:


Ableism, app, autocorrect, bashful bladder, fist pump, French manicure, ghetto blaster, high-definition, infomercial, phone sex, poutine, screen saver, snowboard, technobabble, warm fuzzies, weekend warrior, woo-hoo


AIDS, alt-rock, barista, boy toy, break dancing, concealed carry, couch potato, cyberspace, designated driver, e-mail, face-plant, gaydar, G-spot, microbrewery, text messaging, turducken


Bacterial vaginosis, brewpub, cell phone, dumpster diving, exfoliant, information superhighway, newb, onesie, ringtone, spell-check, stressed-out, yup


Bi-curious, blush wine, date-rape, glass ceiling, horndog, phone tag, spin doctor, sriracha, sucky, wack, yuppify


24-7, anime, attachment parenting, boy band, caller ID, ciabatta, clean tech, crack house, elephant in the room, N-word, sexual predator, step aerobics, Sucralose, Vietnamese potbellied pig


Bungee jump, chat room, crackhead, cringe, deets, HIV, outercourse, portobello, shock jock, sippy cup, slimeball, SUV


Acid-washed, beer goggles, emoticon, FAQ, GIF, loonie, macchiato, paintball, potty-mouthed, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, steampunk, technopreneur, virtual reality


Boomerang child, brick-and-mortar, channel surfing, crop circle, emo, f-bomb, gangsta, JPEG, mad cow disease, mosh pit, road rage, unibrow


Air quotes, beatdown, caffeinated, cyberporn, eco-friendly, gangsta rap, Generation X, helicopter parent, intersectionality, latte, nanobot, puggle, right-click, scrunchie, viral marketing


Big-box, farro, geek out, hoodie, Internet service provider, left-click, McMansion, props, shout-out, spam, tighty-whities, World Wide Web


3-D printer, bestie, brain freeze, carjacking, cybersex, gift card, heteronormative, mixtape, pescatarian, soul patch, time suck, voluntourism


Arm candy, augmented reality, auto-complete, buzzkill, Frankenfood, home page, HTML, man cave, meh, photoshop, Taliban, URL, weak sauce, zip-tie


Body camera, booty call, DVD, e-commerce, fashionista, game changer, microdermabrasion, robocall, webmaster, web page, website


Alt-pop, Botox, cisgender, cyberterrorism, dot-com, metrosexual, MP3, pole dancing, roofie, spoiler alert, upcycle, webcam, welp, wifebeater


Anti-globalization, anti-spam, cap-and-trade, click-through, date-rape drug, genderqueer, macaron, regift, USB, webcast, wiki


Cloud computing, cyberattack, face-palm, fist bump, kiteboarding, phishing, senior moment, smartphone


Amber Alert, auto-tune, emoji, freegan, friend with benefits, judge, smackdown, weblog


Cyberbullying, flexitarian, micro green, open-source, social networking, webinar


Bling, blog, blogger, blogosphere, carbon footprint, chillax, clickbait, snark, texting, vape


Bokeh, crunk, geocaching, google, speed dating, sudoku, walk back

Born outside of 1981-2000? Check out the "Time Traveler" feature here, and the criteria it uses here.

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