Sue Burke (mount_oregano) wrote,
Sue Burke

Words born in 1968

The year 1968 is getting some half-centennial fame these days. It’s being remembered, rightly, as a difficult time.

The Vietnam War was at its peak, Lyndon Baines Johnson announced he would not seek re-election, Martin Luther King was assassinated, the Black Panthers and Oakland police had a deadly shoot-out, students rioted in Paris, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, the Prague Spring was put down by an invasion, the Democratic National Convention was marked by riots, Richard Nixon won the presidential election — and, in rare good news, Apollo 8 made the first manned-flight orbits of the Moon.

I was thirteen years old.

Some of the unrest and technological change became reflected in the English language. Here are a few of the words and expressions that according to Merriam-Webster’s Time Traveler 1968 page made their first appearances in print that year.

The expression gavel-to-gavel probably reflects coverage of the Democratic National Convention. The hippie counterculture had also reached a high point, with new expressions like love beads and peace sign. The Youth International Party also got its start, resulting in the word yippie. A related development was the new acronym SWAT, meaning a police Special Weapons And Tactics unit.

Meanwhile, NASA was busy with the Apollo missions and other space exploration. This gave rise to the words Earthrise, geosynchronous, and pulsar.

The computer mouse debuted in 1968. So did some new computer expressions: alt key, bit rate, word processing, and data mining.

Finally, the expression cash bar first appeared, although the activity it described probably existed before we had a name for it. I was too young to know.

— Sue Burke

  • In the zone: What planet am I on?

    You may have heard about “ writing in the zone.” It’s a creative state where the writer or artist becomes one with the work, in the flow, totally…

  • She thought it was only a dime…

    Here’s a bit of my family lore. When my great-grandmother was a young girl, her family fell on hard times, and she had to get a job. They were…

  • A glimpse of unexpected heartbreak

    The disaster of Hurricane Ida in Louisiana and other southern states reminds me of an unexpected heartbreak I witnessed in 2018. I was traveling,…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.