You can tell a lot about a culture from the language it uses. To read a list of words and phrases coined in the 1960s is like reading a miniature social history of the decade. ‘Hippie’. ‘Flower power’. ‘Peacenik’. ‘Love-in’. ‘Beatlemania’. All these words are inseparable from the time that created them.
Other coinages are more surprising. The idea of being ‘trendy’ didn’t exist until 1962. ‘Sexism’ didn’t enter the language until the end of the decade. ‘Jetlag’ only entered the dictionary in 1966. It’s one of several words that reflect the pace of change in the decade of Harold Wilson’s ‘white heat of technology’ speech.
As well as the new coinages, there were new ways of using old words. At the beginning of the decade, the idea of ‘splitting your pad’ might have implied sharing the same writing materials. But part of the appeal of the new slang was the way it separated the younger generation from its parents – this was also the decade that coined the term ‘generation gap’.
Over the coming months, this blog will feature a series of words and phrases coined or popularised during the 1960s. Check back regularly – it’ll be groovy.