Merriam-Webster have a fun online toy which you use to enter a year and purports to show you the words that first appeared in print that year. (I came across this via the newsletter of the excellent Way With Words radio show)
The first year I tried was 1978 and the results run from androgenism to wideout via antichoice, MDMA, megadeal, Tinseltown, and voxel.
Tinseltown? Really? I would have thought it redolent of the days of the studio system and starlets arriving off the bus to be whisked into a soundstage… sometime in the 50s or even 20s.
Well, here is the OED:
Tinseltown n. a nickname for Hollywood; also transf., the supposedly glittering world of Hollywood cinema; the Hollywood ‘myth’.
1975 Bookseller 16 Aug. 1305/1 The tinseltown stuff when Wodehouse won the applause of the theatre-going fans.
1984 Times 5 Mar. 8/7 When a filmmaker starts cherishing the natural roar of traffic on the soundtrack..you know she believes in Tinseltown
Do Merriam-Webster mean Tinseltown as a noun rather than tinseltown as an adjective?
And even more of a really? moment greeted bed-and-breakfast. It seems hard to credit that this first appeared in print less than forty years ago. Of course, the B & B concept is presumably much older than the word but 1978 seems very recent for a term that was firmly established in the Ireland of the 1980s (in my memory at least)
Of course, lexicographers are constantly finding earlier usages and one shouldn’t get too het up about this. Merriam-Wesbter have a set of disclaimers here… but another search of the OED seemed in order:
bed and breakfast:
(a) the provision of a bed for a night and breakfast the following morning: an arrangement offered by hotels, boarding houses, etc.; also attrib.
1910 Bradshaw’s Railway Guide Apr. 1125/1 Residential Hotel… Bed and breakfast from 4/-.
1930 Morning Post 17 June 18/5 (advt.) Married couple for bed and breakfast house; Kitchen Man and House-Parlourmaid.
1936 J. L. Hodson Our Two Englands x. 174 It is true that I have seen the signs ‘Bed, breakfast and garage’—a new form which the historian should make a note of.
1967 Listener 10 Aug. 178/1 I had previously booked bed and breakfast somewhere in Bloomsbury.
Hmmm. I thought all that would be harder! Perhaps there is some subtlety in Merriam-Webster I am not picking up, but I am afraid over the course of this blogpost my faith in its fun little toy has been shaken considerably….