Press "Enter" to skip to content

21st Century Words: Pop Culture Words Your Parents Never Used

We often take language for granted. Typically, we use the language we’re brought up with, or learn another language as we get older. But we also repeat new pop culture words that we hear in our social circle, online or in the media. And, as the web around us grows simultaneously tighter and broader, we’re more exposed than ever to those new pop culture words. Pop culture words often become an informal part of our language. The logophiles among us (people who love words), may feel affronted or incensed that new pop culture words can worm their way into our vocabulary so easily. But if you think of language as a living thing, it becomes easier to accept pop culture words like Facebook and Skype. Here are some other pop culture words that never used to exist.


Like many pop culture words, the word noob was borne from a resistance to pronouncing two or more syllables when just one will do. Is it laziness? Maybe. Or perhaps it’s a kind of new language efficiency. Noob is actually short for “newbie,” which in itself was a pop culture word that didn’t exist – for a while.

Informally, Oxford English Dictionary defines the word noob to mean: “A person who is inexperienced in a particular sphere or activity, especially computing or the use of the Internet.” Makes sense that this, like the Internet to which it references and Ethernet before it, are words that would likely not exist in their current forms without a little help from technology.


The word friend means anything from a casual connection on social media to a person you are casually intimate with. With that in mind, it makes sense that men who like each other but truly are “just friends” would need a special word like bromance.

Further Bromantic Reading: Signs You’re in a Bromance, How to Start a Bromance in 13 Steps


Google is perhaps the most well known of all the pop culture words that didn’t used to exist. The word now seems so simple and obvious, but only because it’s so completely ingrained in our pop culture. Like it was just waiting to be discovered.

Need help learning to Google? Let us Google it for you: How to Google.


Words are created to describe people, things and places. So it makes sense that the word cyberspace didn’t come into being until cyberspace itself existed. Now cyberspace is just another place to be.


Officially, the Ethernet is: “A system for connecting a number of computer systems to form a local area network, with protocols to control the passing of information and to avoid simultaneous transmission by two or more systems.”

Since the Ethernet cable connects computer devices, and computer devices weren’t part of our pop culture less than a generation ago, the word Ethernet couldn’t exist.


You’d have to travel pretty far to find a person who doesn’t know what a muggle is. The word is so apropos because it contains the word “mug” for face, which denotes identity. Brilliant. The word muggle even has its own Wikipedia entry (Muggle).


Maybe it took the wealth of the 80s and the subsequent recessions of the 90s to help us invent this pop culture word. A staycation is something makes us feel better about not having enough money to go on a proper holiday. Ironically, staycations often have less stress, and do more good for the soul than a traditional vacation.


The propensity of humankind to insert the word “sex” into all things pop culture is nothing short of impressive. Why text when you can sext? It’s ever so much more expressive. Or should we say “exsextive?”


Just like jailbait is a nasty description of an attractive underage girl, clickbait is a nasty description of an attractive headline designed to entice noobs to go someplace in cyberspace they’re better off avoiding.


Selfies represent the lengths that people will go to draw attention to themselves. Apparently, this includes putting their own lives at risk. Interestingly, selfies are implicated in around 49 deaths worldwide. CBS News reported that in 2015, more people died from selfie-related incidents than from shark attacks. It’s only a matter of time before coroners have a code for “death by selfie.”


As the social consciousness becomes more aware of inconsistencies and downright untruths that exist to keep people herded, the word sheeple came into existence. Sheeple is one of the pop culture words that heightens awareness of the changing tide of the populace.


One of the worst pop culture words, IMO. It sounds bad, looks bloated and is actually responsible for much of the bloat on the internet. It’s a derivative of the word “weblog,” originally an online journal. It’s now something that everyone seems to do and no one seems to care.


Truth be told, we are ending with athleisure so you won’t have the word “blog” floating around in your head tonight when you’re trying to sleep. Athleisure is used to describe those sloppy sweats and yoga pants you wear to run errands so people will think you’re better than them.

What do you think of these pop culture words? Are they here to stay, or are they fads that will disappear like pet rocks? Which ones would you vote out of the dictionary? Let us know in the comments below.

Unbranded News logo