1967 Words

The Oxford English Dictionary has 395 words with first citations from 1967. In that year, all sorts of things were in, be-ins, love-ins, and even laugh-ins; after consuming cannabinoids in doobies, one might want a hoagie or a fry-up; Mao jackets and Denver boots represented the iron heel of authority; in academia, refereed papers could go through peer review; and codecs, word processing, and minicomputers made their high-tech debut.

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Events of 1967:

  • January: Charlie Chaplin premieres his last film, A Countess from Hong Kong; the Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the first Superbowl; Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler, is sentenced to life in prison; Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western film A Fistful of Dollars is released in the United States; a fire on the Apollo-1 launch pad kills astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.
  • February: The American Basketball Association is formed; Aretha Franklin records Respect; Suharto takes power in Indonesia; physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” dies.
  • March: Josef Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva defects to the United States.
  • April: Muhammad Ali refuses military service; a military dictatorship takes over the Greek government; Vladimir Komarov dies when the parachute on his Soyuz-1 spacecraft fails to deploy.
  • May: Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu are married; Biafra announces its independence from Nigeria; at Egypt’s insistence, the United Nations withdraws its peacekeeping force from the Sinai; poet Langston Hughes dies.
  • June: The Beatles release Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; Israel seizes control of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai, and the Golan Heights in the Six-Day War; in Loving v. Virginia, the U. S. Supreme Court rules laws prohibiting interracial marriage are unconstitutional; the Soviet Venera-4 craft is the first to land on another planet, Venus, and return data; the “Summer of Love” begins in San Francisco; writer Dorothy Parker and actor Spencer Tracy die.
  • July: Canada celebrates a century of confederation; Britain decriminalizes homosexuality; the Biafran War begins; race riots in Newark, New Jersey leave twenty-six dead; jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and poet Carl Sandburg die.
  • August: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is founded; Thurgood Marshall becomes the first African-American justice on the U. S. Supreme Court; painter René Magritte and Beatles manager Brian Epstein die.
  • September: Voters in Gibraltar reject union with Spain 12,182–44; Sweden switches its roads from left-hand drive to right-hand; poet Siegfried Sassoon and writer Carson McCullers die.
  • October: The musical Hair opens on Broadway; William Knight achieves a speed of Mach 6.7 in an X-15 aircraft; folk singer Woody Guthrie and former British prime minister Clement Atlee die; Che Guevara is executed.
  • November: The U. S. Corporation for Public Broadcasting is formed; Robert McNamara resigns as U. S. Defense Secretary, ostensibly to take the presidency of the World Bank, but actually over the debacle in Vietnam; the U. N. Security Council passes Resolution 242, calling for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories; The Beatles release Magical Mystery Tour.
  • December: The RMS Queen Mary is retired; Christiaan Barnard performs the first heart transplant; singer Otis Redding dies.

The words of 1967:

ASEAN, n.  The Association of South-East Asian Nations was created in 1967. Originally, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand were members.

balls-to-the-wall, adj. (and adv.) This one is from military pilot’s slang, another Vietnam word.

Beeb, n. The nickname for the BBC makes its appearance.

be-in, n. Perhaps nothing is so quintessentially sixties as the be-in. The OED’s definition of “a public gathering of hippies” is accurate, but somehow misses the larger point.

bummer, n.5 The OED’s first citation for bummer, meaning a “bad experience,” is by Joan Didion and appears in the Saturday Evening Post. I’m sure it can be antedated. [And sure enough, the Historical Dictionary of American Slang has it from 1966.]

cannabinoid, n. Drug culture doesn’t just produce slang.

cheapo, adj. (and adv.) and n. (also el cheapo, adj. (and n.)) The Spanish influence is clear on this one.

codec, n. This one is a technical term that has become more widely known thanks to internet video. The etymology is a bit uncertain, but it’s probably some combination of coder-decoder and compress-decompress.

cool Britannia, n. This pun on Rule Britannia is usually associated with the 1990s, but it goes back a ways.

Denver, n. Parking scofflaws around the world now curse the name of this Colorado city where the wheel clamps, called Denver boots or Denver shoes, were invented.

doobie, n. The name for a joint is of unknown origin.

doofus, adj. and n. This one is probably a variation on the older goofus.

faction, n.2 While people have been writing blends of fact and fiction since the Sumerians first pressed triangular sticks into clay, this name for the genre only dates to the late-1960s.

fry-up, n. The name for a hastily prepared meal is first recorded in 1967.

gomer, n.3 Gomer Pyle appeared as a character on The Andy Griffith Show on CBS-TV in 1960, and got his own show, Gomer Pyle, USMC four years later. By 1967, gomer, meaning “an inept soldier,” was part of military slang. But the word also appears in hospital slang somewhat earlier, with the meaning of “an indigent, dirty, and undesirable patient.” Folklorists record it as early as December 1964. Whether the hospital slang term is based on the TV character is open to question. The hospital term is often said to be an acronym for get out of my emergency room, but this explanation is almost certainly an after-the-fact invention.

hoagie, n. The OED has 1967 for the Philadelphia-area name for a submarine sandwich, but it is easily antedated. Hoagie is found as early as 1945, and the form hoogie from 1941.

ibuprofen, n. The name of the analgesic compound appears in 1967.

interface, v. Another computing term that has been generalized to all communications.

James Bond, n. Ian Fleming created the character of James Bond in 1953, and the first film, Dr. No, came out in 1962. By 1967, the term James Bond had come to denote “adventurous, sophisticated, masculine, high-tech,” a sense based on the film character, as the character in Fleming’s novels is quiet, unassuming, dull, and deadly violent and cruel. Fleming said of the name, “I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument [...] when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard.”

jihadist, n. (and adj.) This one has been around long before 9-11. [And even longer. Languagehat has antedated this one to 1915.]

journo, n. (and adj.) This variation on journalist is originally Australian.

klick, n. Another U. S. military slang word that entered the larger consciousness because of Vietnam. A klick is a kilometer.

kvell, v. A borrowing from Yiddish, originally from the German quellen, meaning “to gush, well up.” To kvell is “to feel proud, to gloat.” [Languagehat has antedated kvell to 1965.]

laugh-in, n. With all the -ins of the late-60s, it wasn’t long before the comedians took notice. Laugh-In was the name of Dan Rowan-Dick Martin comedy special that aired on NBC-TV in 1967. The next year it was made into a regular sketch-comedy series that ran until 1973.

love-in, n. Yet another -in.

low-impact, adj. This one started out as a general term meaning “ineffective, barely noticeable.” By 1972 low-impact was being used to refer to environmentally friendly activities. By the mid-1980s it was being used to describe exercise regimens.

Mao, n. In 1967 the Chinese dictator started a fashion trend with his own line of caps and jackets.

maxi, n. In other fashion news, the maxi-skirt made its debut, although the combination form maxi- is found back to 1961.

microburst, n. Originally this term applied to radio transmissions. By the 1980s, microburst was being used by meteorologists to refer to a small, but very violent, windstorm.

minicomputer, n. 1967 saw the appearance of this term for a machine that occupied the middle ground between a microcomputer and a mainframe.

mockney, n. and adj. People had been imitating the accent of London’s East End long before 1967, but that’s when this term for a fake cockney accent appears.

Moog, n.2 Robert Moog filed the patent for his electronic synthesizer in 1966, and by the next year the device was taking the music world by storm.

Naderism, n. Consumer advocate Ralph Nader wrote his book Unsafe at Any Speed about the Corvair automobile in 1965, and within a few years his brand of political activism had its own name.

NAFTA, n. The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1992 between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. But in 1967, NAFTA stood for the North Atlantic Free Trade Area and the proposed agreement would have included the U. S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and well as other European nations.

no-fault, adj. and n. No-fault auto insurance, which pays regardless of which party is at fault in an accident, makes its appearance in 1967.

no worries, int. The iconic Australian saying makes its debut.

peer review, n. I would have thought this term, so essential to the academic process, would have appeared earlier, but evidently not.

Peter Principle, n. Lawrence Peter promulgated his eponymous principle in 1967 which states that in a hierarchical organization, people continue to be promoted until they reach a level where they are incompetent.

polyblend, n. Mixtures of synthetic and natural fibers start being called polyblends in 1967.

rave-up, n. A rave-up is a party. The term’s 1967 appearance is preceded by the plain old rave back in 1960. The specific sense of rave meaning an illicit dance party held in a warehouse or similar location dates to 1989.

refereed, adj. This one appears alongside peer review.

RV, n. The abbreviation for recreational vehicle hits the road.

samizdat, n. Samizdat is the clandestine copying and distribution of censored, or likely to be censored, literature, often by hand, and especially in the Soviet Union. It’s a clipping of the Russian samoizdatelstvo or “self-publishing house.”

scratch and sniff, n. Another high-tech breakthrough.

scumbag, n. In 1967 a scumbag was a condom. It’s recorded in the supplement to Wentworth and Flexner’s slang dictionary, so the word is older in actual use. By 1971 scumbag had acquired the sense of a despicable person.

shiatsu, n.  From the Japanese meaning “finger pressure.”

Spanglish, n. This blend appropriately denotes the blend of the two languages.

tachyon, n. The hypothetical, faster-than-light, sub-atomic particle is first theorized in 1967.

tae kwon do, n. The Korean martial art makes it into English.

word processing, n. The first citation of word processing in the OED is, ironically, a reference to a typewriter. The term word processor appears in 1968.

zipperhead, n. The origin of this one is a mystery, but zipperhead is a derogatory term for a person. During the Vietnam era it was often used to refer to Asians, but it appears at about the same time in both Canada and among U. S. troops in Vietnam, so the origin may not be military. The idea that zipperhead is based on an acronym of zero intelligence potential is an after-the-fact rationalization.

These words are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, based on that dictionary’s earliest citation for that word. Of course, that does not necessarily mean the word was coined in the given year; it only means that is the earliest date the big dictionary has for the word. In many cases, these words can and have been antedated. My selection is not scientific or systematic; it is based on what I think is interesting; sometimes they are words that appear earlier or later than I would have thought; others have a particular historical affiliation for that year or represent some historical trend; and others are just odd words. I’m avoiding back-formations and variations on existing words. Again, be warned that the coining of a word does not necessarily coincide with the invention of a concept. Often, there will be older words that express the same sense.

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