Monday, December 30, 2013

5 Words that are Older than You Think

Mobile Telephone System (MTS) by Bell System
The first commercially available mobile phone (1946)

Sometimes words have surprising origins. For example, the following 5:

1. Frenemy: I thought that the blend of friend and enemy first appeared with Sex and the City. A Google search revealed that was not a unique assumption . A Psychology Today article expressed "the first time the word surfaced was in an episode of the hit show." However, we were both wrong. 

The word frenemy dates back to 1953. "It was first mentioned in William Winchell's article in the Nevada State Journal 'Howz About Calling the Russians our Frenemies?'"

2. Downloadable: I recently discovered that downloadable originated in 1982. Well, call me gobsmacked (another 1980s word). Internet usage was scant in '82. Nevertheless, the concept of a download spawned 2 adjectival forms. It is difficult to imagine such prominence in the early 80s. 

3. Unfriend: You may not be able to believe that your best friend from middle school unfriended you. What I cannot believe is that unfriend was first used in 1275 as a noun, then in 1659 as a verb.

4. Mobile Phone: The phrase was coined in 1945. "The first commercially available mobile telephone was the Mobile Telephone System (MTS) by Bell Systems. The monthly fee was approximately $330 modern US dollars, with additional charges per call." Yikes. 

5. Scrub: TLC was hardly the first to decry the attention of a scrub. While that may not surprise, consider that people have not cared for that number (nor wanted to give theirs) since the 14th century. 

Dobranski, Paul, M.D. (March 31, 2010). How to Spot Friends, Enemies, Frenemies and Bullies [online article]. Retrieved from

Cavendish, Lucy. (December 31, 2013). The Best of Frenemies [online article]. Retrieved from

Ginva. (May 8, 2011). The Evelution of the Cell Phone Between 1938-2011. [blog post]. Retrieved from

TLC. "No Scrubs." Fanmail. Laface, Arista, 1999. Radio single.

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