24 words that mean totally different things now than they did before the Internet

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‘Technological change, as we know very well, tends to provoke linguistic and cultural change, too. It’s the reason why, several times a year, dictionaries trumpet the addition of new and typically very trendy words.

But more interesting than the new words, I think, are the old words that have gotten new meanings: words such as “cloud” and “tablet” and “catfish,” with very long pre-Internet histories. The reappropriation is rarely random; in most cases, the original meaning of the word is a metaphor for the new one. Our data is as remote as a cloud, for instance; catfish are just as tricky and unpredictable as an online love interest.

Anyway, this is all a very long way of saying that Dictionary.com’s 20th birthday is more interesting than most: To mark the occasion, the online dictionary has compiled a list of words whose meanings have changed since it launched two decades ago. To that list, we have added a few tech terms of our own: such as “troll” and “firehose.”’

Click here to find out more!

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