Waking Up to a New Vocabulary

Waking Up to a New Vocabulary


It seems to happen overnight. While we’re sleeping, a new word creeps into the dictionary and into our subconscious.   We awake to see and hear the new word all around us and before you can say Jack Robinson, we’re using it too.

Oh sure, we may have to ask a teenager exactly what the word means before we start throwing it about nonchalantly, but once we have a grasp on it, look out world! There’s a new word in town and everybody is talking about it!  Words like “hi-res”, “twitter”,  and “emoji” roll off our tongues like a favorite song.

In the same manner,  familiar words take on new meaning while we sleep.  Mundane words like “cloud” and “hashtag” have miraculously morphed into exciting techno terms that pepper our everyday conversations.

The latest word to sneak into my vocabulary overnight with a new meaning is “hack”.  Perhaps you too can recall when hack meant to strike at something with heavy blows or break into a computer system creatively (and often illegally).   Used as a noun, a hack was known as a dry cough or a person that does a particularly bad job.

Fast forward to yesterday morning (or maybe it was the day before that) when (Hocus Pocus!) a hack became known as a clever solution to a tricky problem.   Hack’s origin stems from the term “lifehack” (a former overnight word sensation in its own right) which means a tip, trick, or efficient method for doing or managing day-to-day task or activity.

As you can imagine, lifehacks and hacks are pretty important stuff!  I’m not sure how we managed to solve tricky problems or manage day-to-day activities before they came along.

So, what’s the next new word to infiltrate our lives?  One could check the Urban Dictionary for a clue, but I think I’ll just sit tight and get a good night’s sleep so I’m well-rested and energized in order to tackle tomorrow’s vocabulary challenge.

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