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These words are brand-new additions to English…not!

These words are brand-new additions to English…not!
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You surely know that words fall in and out of popularity throughout the years. It can often seem like a word or phrase is everywhere one year and gone the next. But you may not realise that some popular words that seem distinctly “modern” are, in fact, not. Even seemingly “of-the-moment” terms like “politically correct,” “unfriend,” and “influencer” got their start before the 21st or late 20th centuries – in some cases, long, long before.

Politically correct

Politically correct
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This dates back to a 1793 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 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.”

Spork

Spork
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The term for a spoon/fork combo has been around since at least 1909 when it appeared as an entry in the Century Dictionary. The utensil itself has been in use since the mid-1800s.

“Spork” is a classic funny word, but here are more funny words you’ve probably never heard before.

Truthiness

Truthiness
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Popularised by satirist Stephen Colbert in 2005, it’s been listed in the Oxford English Dictionary since 1824 as an alternate form of “truthfulness.” When told that it was already a word, Colbert retorted, “You don’t look up ‘truthiness’ in a book, you look it up in your gut!”

Not!

Not!
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Loudly proclaiming, “Not!” at the end of an assertion to negate that assertion was popularised in the late 1980s in Saturday Night Live‘s “Wayne’s World” sketches. But the joke first gained popularity in the early 1900s by, among others, humourist Ellis Parker Butler, who wrote in Pig is Pigs (1905), “Cert’nly, me dear friend Flannery. Delighted! Not!”

Saying, “not!” a lot might make your friends groan, but here are some words to say that will make you instantly funnier.

Smash hit

Smash hit
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The entertainment trade magazine Variety began using this accolade to describe a successful movie in the 1920s.

Speaking of which, check out the movies that have hilarious titles in other countries.

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Bunk

Bunk
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This word for “empty talk” or “nonsense” originated in 1820 when US Congressman Felix Walker, from Buncombe in North Carolina, talked at length about whether Missouri should be admitted to the Union as a free state or a slave state. Politicians subsequently adopted the phrase “talking from Buncombe.” That was shortened to “bunkum” and finally to “bunk” by humourist George Ade, who wrote in his 1900 book More Fables, “History is more or less bunk.”

These 11 irregular plural words sound like total bunkum… but aren’t. 

Gossip

Gossip
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Think “gossip” is, if certainly not an immediately recent word, a word that came to be in the last few centuries? Say, in the 1800s, in Jane Austen–like polite society? Think again. “Gossip” dates back to the Middle English word “gossib.” Although that word didn’t quite have the same meaning – it referred to a close friend or confidant – it was a direct predecessor to the one we use today.

Barbecue

Barbecue
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If you think “barbecue” came around the same time as the rise of burgers and hot dogs, you’d be incorrect. The word actually dates back to the mid-1600s and the Spanish word “barbacoa,” specifically the indigenous Arawak people of South America and the Caribbean. This word referred to a frame of sticks for cooking meat over a fire.

Make sure you’re not getting these everyday idioms wrong. 

Dope

Dope
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No matter what definition you think of for this word – an adjective meaning “awesome,” shorthand for drugs, or a dismissive word for a not-so-intelligent individual – it’s probably pretty slang-y. You might think this word is a relatively recent invention. In fact, it dates back to the mid-1800s and comes from a Dutch word, “doop.” The word meant “sauce,” and led to the more “straightforward” definition of “dope,” a thick liquid or substance for preparing surfaces.

These words might not be new, but here are the 12 funniest new words added to the dictionary in 2020.

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