For many, Cyber Monday provides the perfect shopping solution: all the holiday deals with none of the holiday crowds. But, where did the name Cyber Monday come from?
What and when is Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday is an annual event during the holiday shopping season that’s devoted to online shopping. Online retailers are known for offering deals and discounts on the day.
The annual Cyber Monday takes place on the Monday after Thanksgiving (which is the fourth Thursday in November). In 2021, Cyber Monday is November 29. In 2022, it will fall on November 28.
Cyber Monday is part of a series of unofficial holidays focused on shopping opportunities at what’s considered the beginning of the holiday season. This period begins with Black Friday, the oldest and most established of such days. Cyber Monday is a more recent addition, along with Small Business Saturday (the day for buying from small businesses). The yearly charitable giving campaign known as Giving Tuesday takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Giving Tuesday is an annual event devoted to encouraging people to donate to charitable causes or to volunteer.
What is the origin of the name Cyber Monday?
Cyber Monday was first used in 2005 by the National Retail Federation to encourage people to shop online. Cyber Monday is often considered to be the online shopping equivalent of Black Friday, which dates back to at least the 1950s and has historically been one of the busiest shopping days of the year.
What does cyber mean?
Prior to the advent of the internet, cyber was used in the formation of words relating to computers, computer networks, or virtual reality. This usage can be traced to the word cybernetics, which was ushered into English in the 1940s by the scientist Norbert Wiener. Cybernetics refers to “the study of mechanical and electronic systems designed to replace human systems.” It comes from the Greek term kybernḗtēs meaning “helmsman” or “steersman.”
The first instance on record of cyber as a combining form is from 1961 in the Wall Street Journal: “A major difference between the Cybertron and conventional computers … is the ability of the Cybertron to make use of raw data and signals.” The Cybertron was used for commercial and military use at the time, and it was touted as a machine that could learn as it solved problems. Also in the 1960s, fans of the popular sci-fi show Doctor Who heard another cyber combining form: cybermen. These deathly cyborgs have been frequent visitors throughout the show’s run.
Other words that use cyber
Today, cyber- is largely used in terms relating to the internet, and it appears in many commonly used words. One notable coinage in the evolution of this term is the word cyberspace by novelist William Gibson. He used it first in his 1982 story “Burning Chrome.” He used the word again in his 1984 novel Neuromancer in a passage that predated the introduction of the internet to mainstream culture (but captured its mystery surprisingly accurately):
“Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts … A graphic representation of data abstracted from the banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like city lights, receding …”
Cyber- is also part of these frequently used terms:
Whether you love or loathe the idea of a day of online shopping, Cyber Monday has already been with us for more than 15 years. As technologies continue to change, the ways we use the word cyber are likely to adjust, too! What will the next wave of cyber-realities bring?