fun with phrases

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Sep 16 16:12:23 UTC 2011

Within minutes of each other I've encountered three fairly "recent" cliches
that got me to wondering.  All three are now frequently heard (at least in
my world), but there was a time - in my own lifetime - when they never were.
In theory, anybody since the rollout of EModE around 1600 could have uttered
these words spontaneously, but if they did no one was paying much attention.

So I did a quick GB search.


"redefine yourself": 1966, but not common for a decade.

"reinvent yourself": 1969, but ditto.

"Don't let the past determine your future" : 2000.

"So what?" you say. "These things merely reflect the self-help crazes of the

Precisely. Nobody was thinking these things in 1932 and now a hundred
million people are. That suggests a significant cultural change encapsulated
in just a handful of words.

Stay tuned.


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society -

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