Good talking point, raised by Christopher Howse, in Teleg. 23.1.2010, exploring the idea that history can be written as a list of neologisms, meaning the new definitions added to our language by each decade’s experiences. He said: “From John Ayto’s authoritative 600-page compilation, Twentieth Century Words, one can construct: 1900s car-sick, concentration camp, to bomb; 1910s gas gangrene, Oedipus complex, write-off; 1920s gold-digger, pansy, speed cop; 1930s stateless person, soap opera, polythene; 1940s final solution, apartheid, digital; 1950s drip-dry, mushroom cloud, discotheque; 1960s acid, identikit, database; 1970s bag lady, bean-counters, E-numbers; 1980s shell suit, yuppie, video nasty; 1990s laddish, false memory syndrome, dumbing down.”

And for the 2000s? Some suggestions in Mr Howse’s full essay at


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