1982 Words

The Oxford English Dictionary has 200 words with first citations from 1982. In that year, British troops yomped to Stanley in their campaign against the Argies, although they probably would have preferred to ride in Humvees; veejays played a song that featured Valspeak; cyberspace became constrained by netiquette; and AIDS makes its appearance.

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Events of 1982:

  • January: AT&T agrees to an antitrust settlement that breaks the monopoly up into smaller, regional phone companies.
  • February: The short-lived DeLorean Motor Company goes into receivership; the Atlanta serial killer Wayne Williams is convicted; acting coach Lee Strasberg and musician Thelonius Monk die.
  • March: Claus von Bülow is found guilty in the attempted murder of his wife; writers Philip K. Dick and Ayn Rand and composer Carl Orff die.
  • April: Argentina invades and occupies the Falkland Islands; Canada patriates its constitution, gaining full political independence from the United Kingdom.
  • May: In separate actions, the Argentinean cruiser General Belgrano and the British destroyer HMS Sheffield are sunk in the South Atlantic; British troops land on the Falkland Islands; Braniff airline goes belly up; Baltimore Oriole shortstop Cal Ripken, Jr. plays the first of 2,632 consecutive games.
  • June: Israel invades Lebanon; Argentinean forces in the Falklands surrender; the Equal Rights Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, which would have granted women equal status to men, fails ratification, only garnering ratifications in 35 of the 38 states needed; baseball pitcher Satchel Paige dies.
  • July: Larry Walters soars to 4,900 m (16,000 feet) above Long Beach, California in a lawn chair with weather balloons attached.
  • August: A multinational force, including U. S. Marines, lands in Beirut to oversee evacuation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization from Lebanon; actors Henry Fonda and Ingrid Bergman die.
  • September: Tylenol adulterated with potassium cyanide kills seven in the Chicago area; President-Elect of Lebanon Bashir Gemayel and actor Grace Kelly die.
  • October: EPCOT Center opens at Walt Disney World in Florida; Poland bans the Solidarity union; automaker John DeLorean is arrested for selling cocaine to finance his car company; former U. S. First Lady Bess Truman dies.
  • November: Yuri Andropov is elected general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC is dedicated; “the Play” occurs in the UC Berkeley-Stanford football game, a fifty-seven yard, game-winning kickoff return for a touchdown that included five lateral passes and eludes not only the Stanford defenders, but also the marching band that had prematurely taken the field in anticipation of a Stanford victory; Michael Jackson releases the Thriller album; Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev dies.
  • December: Barney Clark receives the first artificial heart, living for 112 days with the device; Texas carries out the first execution by lethal injection in the United States; actors Marty Feldman and Jack Webb and musician Artur Rubenstein die.

The words of 1982:

AIDS, n. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome, or AIDS, gets its name in 1982.

Argie, n. The Falklands conflict brought this somewhat derogatory term for an Argentinean to the fore.

backslash, n. The reverse-sloping slash had been around for decades by the beginning of the 1980s. It had been in the original ASCII character set and become a staple of programming. But the OED doesn’t have a citation of its common name of backslash until 1982, although a quick search of Google Books turns up a usage in 1979.

barista, n. Barista is first found in Italian circa 1940, and the 1982 citation in the OED refers to a worker in a Roman espresso bar, but by decade’s end barista is being used to refer to those who make as serve espresso in the United States.

camcorder, n. By 1982, video cameras for the home market were hitting the store shelves.

churn rate, n. The sense of churn meaning the change in a customer base, the replacement of departing subscribers to a service with new ones, dates to 1977. By 1982 business people were talking about their churn rate.

cyberspace, n. Unlike most words, the origin of this term for the notional location where electronic community resides can be traced with some precision. Cyberspace was most likely coined by science fiction writer William Gibson in the July 1982 issue of Omni magazine.

DAT, n. The term digital audio tape dates to 1978, and its acronym DAT to 1982. The format never truly caught on with the general public due to the spread of the ability to record to CD media.

downloadable, adj. An inevitable adjective makes its appearance.

dweeb, n. The OED has this derogatory term, equivalent to nerd, from 1982, although the Historical Dictionary of American Slang records citations dating back to 1968. The word may be a blend of dwarf and feeb, a slang term for a feeble person that dates to 1911.

ecotourism, n. This one is from 1982, but the noun ecotour can be found as far back as 1973.

filovirus, n. The genus of virus that includes Marburg and Ebola is named.

hip-hop, n. (and adj.) The urban, youth subculture gets its name in this year. The name hip-hop probably comes from a confluence of items, including the lyrics to the 1979 song Rapper’s Delight which included, “Said a hip hop the hibbit the hippidibby hip hip hoppa you don’t stop,” and the words hip and bebop.

Humvee, n. The military designation of HMMWV, or high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle, precedes the spelling Humvee by a year. Hummer appears in 1983.

letterboxed, adj. The adjective describing the format used to present widescreen movies on television dates to 1982, but the name of the format, the noun letterbox, goes back to 1963.

microbrewery, n. The name for a place that produces small amounts of craft beer appears by 1982, although the less common mini-brewery dates to 1968.

morph, v. The verb meaning to alter an object in a digital image into something else is in place by 1982.

netiquette, n. The code of behavior for the internet gets its name.

party animal, n. The OED has a citation of this term from 1982, but it also refers to a 1978 broadcast of the NBC-TV show Saturday Night Live that uses party animal in reference to comedian Bill Murray.

pleather, n. and adj. The polyurethane fabric made to resemble leather gets its name, a blend of plastic and leather.

poutine, n. The French Canadian dish of French fries, cheese, and gravy is said to have been named by Fernand Lachance, owner of the Lutin Qui Rit restaurant in Warwick, Quebec. The restaurant began serving fries with cheese in 1957, adding the gravy in 1964. The name poutine is recorded in Canadian French by 1978 and makes its way into the pages of the English-language Toronto Star newspaper by 1982. The word poutine is related to the English word pudding, either via the French pouding, or as a direct borrowing into Canadian French from the English.

power walking, n. The form of low-intensity aerobic exercise has been used by people in parks to make themselves look silly since 1982.

refi, n. The clipping of refinancing becomes a buzzword in the U. S. banking system.

RU-486, n. The so-called “morning after pill” makes its appearance. The name is from the French pharmaceutical company, Roussel Uclaf, that developed it and the chemical’s laboratory designation of 38486. It’s also known as mifepristone, a name that appears by 1985.

sabermetrics, n. (also sabermetrician, n.) This one has nothing to do with swordplay. It’s from the acronym SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, and refers to statistical analysis baseball players’ performance.

SCSI, n. Pronounced like skuzzy, this acronym refers to small computer systems interface, a high-speed connection between the computer and peripheral devices.

Spetsnaz, n. The Russian name for Soviet special operations troops makes its way into English military vocabulary. The name is a clipping of specialnogo naznačenija “of special purpose.”

spreadsheet, n. The OED has this name for the class of computer programs appearing by 1982, but it’s older. Spreadsheet dates to at least 23 July 1975 when it appears in the pages of Computerworld magazine.

taqueria, n. This word, a blend of taco + -eria, appears in American Spanish by 1975 and makes its way into English by 1982. A tacqueria is a Mexican restaurant, especially one that specializes in tacos.

tiramisu, n. The name for the Italian dessert, literally “pick me up,” appears in English by 1982.

turducken, n. The dish consisting of a chicken stuffed inside a duck stuffed inside a turkey makes its debut.

Valspeak, n. This name for the dialect spoken by teenagers in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California gained fame with the 1982 release of the Frank Zappa song Valley Girl, in which Zappa’s fourteen-year-old daughter Moon Unit delivered a monologue in Valspeak spiked with surfing slang.

veejay, n. The clipping of video jockey, inspired by disc jockey and deejay, comes to fore with MTV or Music Television, which, although it’s hard to believe now, actually broadcast music back in 1982.

wysiwyg, n. The acronym, pronounced like wizzywig, for what you see is what you get, appears in this year. It’s a reference to the correspondence between the look of the digital screen and the printed page.

Xeriscape, n. The style of landscape design used in arid climates gets its name. Xeriscape is from the combining form xero-, from the Greek word for “dry,” and landscape.

yomp, v. The British military slang term meaning “to march” makes a brief appearance in the general lexicon due to its use by Royal Marines in the Falklands campaign. The origin is unknown.

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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