Words Through the Years


The English language is evolving right before our eyes. Words that we learned from our childhood friends were commonly dismissed by our teachers as not even real words are now immortalized in dictionaries across the country. I distinctly remember a book I had read in the first grade that stressed that “ain’t” is not a word. Being an impressionable six year old, I took that to heart and always assumed that that’s how it was going to be, forever and ever. Lo and behold, 16 years have passed and I’ve used it many times when talking to my peers (and even my bosses) without anyone peering down at me and scolding me for using an allegedly non-existent word. To make matters even more confounding, “ain’t” is actually in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as just another way to say “are not.”

Just a few weeks ago, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow’s act of “Tebowing” officially entered the American lexicon, so if you hear a student say “I’m going to Tebow because I just got an A on my math test” then you can’t exactly correct him/her and say that it’s not a word, because it is. 

While it’s actually quite common for “non-words” to become official words, I don’t think it’s necessarily happened as fast as it had since the Internet has come along. Here we have a community where words and ideas spread like wildfire and it’s entirely conceivable that within a few years, a novelty way of saying something actually becomes a part of our language. It is now quite possible that text speak could become a way of life, however detrimental it may be.

So what words from your youth became fully-fledged members of the dictionary as time went on? And even more fun, what words do kids use today that you can see end up in Webster’s dictionary?