20 Words That Mean More Than They Did 20 Years Ago

For many of us, 1995 feels like just yesterday. The year marked the unveiling of Amazon, “the Rachel” haircut, and the Frappuccino. But there’s no denying that when it comes to technological advancements, 1995 was a lifetime ago. Twenty years ago, the dial-up modem and the VCR were among the prevailing technologies of the day. Today, smartphones and social media are cornerstones of daily life, and this momentous shift in how we live is reflected in how we speak. To commemorate the 20th birthday of Dictionary.com, we look back at 20 words that have expanded in meaning over the last 20 years.

Bump: to move an online post or thread to the top of the reverse chronological list by adding a new comment or post to the thread.

Cloud: any of several parts of the Internet that allow online processing and storage of documents and data as well as electronic access to software and other resources.

Core: the muscles of the torso, which provide support for the spine and pelvis.

Fail: to make an embarrassing or humorous mistake, be in a humiliating situation, etc., and be subject to ridicule.

Footprint: a unique set of characteristics, actions, etc., that leave a trace and serve as a means of identification.

Friend: to add a person to one’s list of contacts on a social-networking website.

Glance: information on an electronic screen that can be understood quickly or at a glance.

Goldilocks: not being extreme or not varying drastically between extremes, especially between hot and cold.

Like: to indicate one’s enjoyment of, agreement with, or interest in website content, especially in social media.

Meme: a cultural item in the form of an image, video, phrase, etc., that is spread via the Internet and often altered in a creative or humorous way.

Ping: to make contact with someone by sending a brief electronic message, as a text message.

Profile: the personal details, images, user statistics, social-media timeline, etc., that an individual creates and associates with a username or online account.

Sandbox: an environment in which software developers or editors can create and test new content, separate from other content in the project.

Swipe: to move the fingers across a touchscreen.

Takeaway: conclusions, impressions, or action points resulting from a meeting, discussion, roundtable, or the like.

Text: to send a text message.

Timeline: a collection of online posts or updates associated with a specific social-media account, in reverse chronological order.

Tweet: a very short message posted on the Twitter website.

Unplug: to refrain from using digital or electronic devices for a period of time.

Viral: becoming very popular by circulating quickly from person to person, especially through the Internet.

What other terms can you think of that have expanded in meaning over the last 20 years? Share your picks with us in the comments!


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