2004 Words

The Oxford English Dictionary has 8 words with first citations from 2004. In that year, a 9.3 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggers a tsunami that kills some quarter million people; cases of prisoner abuse at the U. S. military prison at Abu Ghraib, Iraq are revealed; terrorists bomb rush-hour trains in Madrid, killing 191; Chechen militants take over eleven-hundred people hostage in a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, with 334 killed when Russian security forces storm the building three days later; the Boston Red Sox break the Bambino’s Curse and win their first World Series since 1918; the NBC-TV series Friends ends its run; NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers land on Mars, and their missions, planned for only ninety days, were so successful that Spirit continued to operate for 2,269 days and Opportunity continues to work as of this writing; Chinese PC maker Lenovo announces that it will purchase IBM’s personal computer business, ending the reign of the IBM PC; and San Francisco issues marriage licenses to gay couples in defiance of California law.

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The words of 2004:

Ali Baba, n. Taken from the character in The Arabian Nights, in 2004 Ali Baba became U. S. military slang for an Iraqi insurgent.

angel, n. Another military slang term, angel is a euphemism for a dead soldier.

backdoor draft, n. In 2004 backdoor draft started to be used for the involuntary retention of U. S. troops on active duty, using a clause in the soldiers’ enlistment contracts that allows the government to extend the term of service during wartime.

Boobgate, n. One of the many terms that popped out in 2004 in reference to Janet Jackson’s exposing her breast during the Superbowl half-time show.

botax, n. Taxes on elective cosmetic surgery started to be derisively referred to as botaxes.

bromance, n. A blend of brother + romance, a bromance is a strong, non-sexual relationship between two men.

facebook, v. By 2004 the web site had become a verb.

FOMO, n. An acronym for fear of missing out, also an explanation for why so many people were facebooking.

hillbilly armor, n. Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan referred to the makeshift armor they placed on their vehicles as hillbilly armor.

homeshore, homeshoring, n. By 2004, offshoring, or moving jobs overseas, had become so common that a word was needed for when a company decided to create jobs domestically.

job creator, n. This euphemism for a wealthy person appeared in 2004 as a justification for maintaining low taxes on them.

lipotourism, n. A blend of liposuction + tourism, this phrase refers to the practice of traveling overseas for low-cost cosmetic surgery.

netroots, n. A blend of internet + grassroots, the use of the internet to generate mass political action.

NINA, n. The banking collapse would be a few years away, but by 2004 people were already discussing loans to people with no income no assets.

Obamamania, n. The obscure state senator from Illinois rose to prominence in 2004 with his keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention.

Pajamahadeen, n. (with various spellings) A blend of pajama + mujahedeen, the pajamahadeen were bloggers who rigorously fact-checked and challenged mainstream media reporting of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. From the stereotypical image of blogger wearing pajamas.

paywall, n. After firewall, a paywall is the practice of making website content available only to those who pay a fee.

podcast, n. (and v.) After iPod + broadcast, a podcast is an audio, and later video, program downloaded from the internet for use on a personal audio/video device, like an iPod.

snowclone, n. This term, coined by Glen Whitman on his Agoraphilia blog in 2004 at the prompting of linguist Geoffrey Pullum, stands for a formulaic expression in which new terms can be substituted for old ones, such as “X is the new Y,” or “in space, no one can hear you X.” The name snowclone was inspired by the myth that Eskimos have many words for snow and the practice of lazy journalists to use that “fact” to generate copy, as in “if Eskimos have 500 words for snow, then Santa Cruzans must have 500 words for surf.”

text, v. The verb to text, meaning to send an electronic message via a device such as a mobile phone dates back to 1998. But the verb has been used as a synonym for to write since the late-sixteenth century.

wardrobe malfunction, n. This is the most famous euphemism for the Janet Jackson Superbowl incident, uttered by singer Justin Timberlake who caused, allegedly inadvertently, the exposure.

waterboarding, n. This term for the torture technique that simulates drowning appears in 2004, although the use of the noun waterboard for the bench on which the torture happens dates back to 1976.

These words are taken from the Oxford English Dictionary, based on that dictionary’s earliest citation for that word. I’ve also taken words from the Among the New Words column in the journal American Speech; and in many cases these words have been antedated by the OED.  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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