Word Spy Blog

Words That Turn Twenty in December, 2016

In honour of Word Spy’s 20th birthday earlier this year, throughout 2016 I’m highlighting words that are celebrating their own 20th birthdays.

Here’s a list of words that were coined (or have an earliest citation) in December, 1996:

black fax
n. A black piece of paper faxed to a company as a prank or as retaliation for distributing junk faxes.
Earliest citation date: December 7, 1996

Bubbonics
n. The speech patterns of the United States south.
Earliest citation date: December 26, 1996

hyper-parenting
n. A child-rearing style in which parents are intensely involved in managing, scheduling, and enriching all aspects of their children’s lives.
Earliest citation date: December 24, 1996

invisible Web
n. The collection of searchable websites whose content exists within databases and so cannot be indexed by search engines.
Earliest citation date: December 12, 1996

mallternative
n. Alternative rock music that is bland enough to be piped into a mall, restaurant, or other public location.
Earliest citation date: December 3, 1996

neuromyth
n. A popular but false belief about the brain.
Earliest citation date: December 21, 1996

news fasting
n. The deliberate avoidance of all forms of news media, particularly to relieve stress and relax the mind.
Earliest citation date: December 6, 1996

peeping-Tom TV
n. Reality television shows, particularly shows that focus on the personal lives of ordinary people.
Earliest citation date: December 19, 1996

personal shoplifter
n. A thief hired by an individual to shoplift goods.
Earliest citation date: December 6, 1996

skulling
pp. Defacing a poster or billboard to make a head resemble a skull.
Earliest citation date: December 9, 1996

table writing
n. The creation of scripts, jokes, and stories by a committee of writers.
Earliest citation date: December 9, 1996

theocon
n. A conservative who believes that religion should play a major role in forming and implementing public policy.
Earliest citation date: December 12, 1996

toxic knowledge
n. Knowledge of a potential genetic predisposition for a particular disease, esp.
Earliest citation date: December 30, 1996

upskirt
n. A video, usually taken inside a crowded location such as a shopping mall, that is shot up a woman’s skirt.
Earliest citation date: December 6, 1996

webisode
n. An episode of a web-based show or movie.
Earliest citation date: December 23, 1996