Quick Hacks to Understanding Today's Language
While skimming through various social media platforms as well as some online news pages, I began to notice familiar words that now have new meanings. For instance, the word, hack—I have always considered that word to mean something negative—as in, “somebody hacked my Facebook.” Suddenly, it’s a great thing to do—“seven hacks to cutting credit card debt.” After researching the word, I learned that it is the shortened version of the word, life hack, which is defined as “a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing a day-to-day task or activity.”
Here are some other words, phrases, symbols that now have new definitions and connotations as well as some abbreviations that have become a part of today’s language.
The symbol # is now referred to as hash tag and often refers to a tweet. Just ten years ago, it was called the pound sign and in the days before cell phones and iPads, we would draw that symbol on a piece of paper and play tick tack toe with a friend. But most businesses still refer to it as a pound sign—for instance when you call their customer service department and are told to press the pound sign if you wish to remain on hold for the next seven hours until a customer service representative can speak with you.
Remember when the word tweet referred to the sound that a birdie makes? We now call our home phone our landline and when it rings, we immediately check the television to see who is calling. Ninety-nine percent of the time it is a robo call—the new telemarketer.
Remember when a smiley face was a smiley face and not an emoji?
And then there are the abbreviations.
If you’re wondering what the letters IDK written in a text message from your child mean, I don’t know. No. Seriously. I don’t know. It’s a bit like, “who’s on first.”
Here’s breaking news to keep you updated on today’s abbreviations so that you are not using outdated phrases that are so last week. According to Facebook, Haha, followed closely by laughing emojis and hehe, has officially replaced LOL, which stands for laugh out loud.
Remember when teens were “instant messaging” one another on the “family computer” and using the abbreviation MOS—“Mom over shoulder,” to let their friends know they couldn’t “talk?” While that abbreviation has gone the way of the dinosaur and the desktop computer it was typed on, a new abbreviation—NSFW has taken its place. The abbreviation means Not Safe For Work, referring to material that should not be viewed while a person is sitting at their desk in the workplace. I am guessing the same generation that typed MOS is also responsible for coining the acronym NSFW.
It is interesting to see some of the new phrases and abbreviations that have evolved to become a natural part of our language and to consider what we will be saying—and not saying—in just a few years. Feel free to share some of your favorite new words and catch phrases.