A major new study of conversational English has revealed the 15 words that have dropped most dramatically in popularity since the 90s – to such a great extent that they are now almost out of use.
Research by Lancaster University and Cambridge University Press found that words including ‘golly,’ ‘mucking,’ and ‘matey’ are on the way out, while terms like ‘crossword,’ ‘cassette’ and ‘permed,’ have also dropped in popularity, doubtless due to activities, technologies and trends that are now less common (or in some cases, obsolete). We’ve also said goodbye to ‘ta-ra’ as a way of bidding farewell, and are now far less likely to refer to some distant acquaintance as ‘whatsername’ (which, frankly, is probably for the best).
Researchers have compiled five million words used regularly between 2012 and 2015, and compared them to words found in a similar study from the 90s. Around 1,000 volunteers across the country assisted with the project by recording themselves talking with their family and friends on the phone.
Among the words which have enjoyed a jump in popularity are ‘awesome’ and ‘massively’ (perhaps reflective of our tendency to over-exaggerate?), along with tech-based terms like ‘email,’ ‘internet,’ ‘iPhone’ and ‘YouTube.’
‘New technologies like Facebook have really captured our attention, to the extent that, if we’re using it, we’re probably talking about it,’ Robbie Love, a language expert from the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science at Lancaster University, explained to Cambridge News.
‘The study provides a sense of the way society has expanded since the early 1990s and the end of the offline ear,’ he added. ‘Our priorities are moving away from what’s happening on our doorsteps. We are not talking about these things so much so the older words have “faded” out of every day conversation.’
15 words that have faded from use since the 90s
15 words that have jumped in popularity since the 90s