Top 10 words of the ’80s

You might have heard your friends use these words but the truth is, it’s your parents who are more familiar with these following terms:

1. Hip-hop – the term pairs the hip that means “trendy” or “fashionable” with the leaping movement hop.

2. Balsamic – comes from the Italian word for “curative,” because the vinegar is traditionally thought to aid digestion. (A few sips of balsamic vinegar are sometimes taken after a meal, as a digestif.)

3. Apartheid – “The urge to punish South Africa for apartheid is now palpable throughout the United States. Americans want to destroy this abhorrent structure of racism or disown its sponsors’ claimed kinship with Western culture.” — Editorial, New York Times, June 9, 1985

4. Perm – or permanent wave (“a long-lasting hair wave or straightening produced by mechanical and chemical means”) was invented in the early 1900s by a German immigrant to the UK. Karl Nessler took his invention to the US in 1915.

5. Crack – One theory is that its name comes from the crackling noise produced when it’s heated, but it also suggests an impact on people’s lives. Crack became a major issue in the 1980s.

6. Yuppie – Powered by the bull market of the ’80s and a post-Hippie embrace of materialism, yuppie symbolized a new style of consumer. Merriam-Webster’s definition – “a young college-educated adult who is employed in a well-paying profession and who lives and works in or near a large city” – doesn’t convey the emotions (envy, scorn, etc.) the label generated.

7. Glasnost – Literally “publicity” in Russian, glasnost permitted new levels of freedom of speech.

8. Postmodern – Merriam-Webster defines postmodern this way: “relating to … any of various movements in reaction to modernism that are typically characterized by a return to traditional materials and forms (as in architecture) or by ironic self-reference and absurdity (as in literature).”

9. Safe Sex – After first appearing in print in 1983, safe sex became a watchword of the decade.

10. PC – the word PC, which originally designated a particular IBM model, became the general term for the whole category of personal computers.


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