Wednesday 22 January 2020

26 words that defined the decade now gone: From mansplaining to 'yes'

10 years ago, how many of the words in Pól Ó Conghaile's A to Z would you have understood?

Selfie: One of the words of the decade. Photo: Getty
Selfie: One of the words of the decade. Photo: Getty
Ash plume from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull crater on May 15, 2010. Photo: Getty
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

When you woke on January 1, 2010, 'woke' meant woke.

Ten years later, things have gotten a little more complicated.

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Back then Brian Cowen was Taoiseach, Barrack Obama was US President and you still bought CDs. You hadn't heard of cronuts and hardly anybody made podcasts.

Now, everybody makes podcasts (thanks a lot, Serial).

As the decade went on, phones would become more expensive than TVs; Ireland would discover proper pizza ovens, and our vocabulary would change forever.

We would come to live in a land of Dadbods and Mom jeans; of 'artisan' food and 'craft' drink, of snowflakes, selfies and... yes, President Trump.

Here's an A to Z of the words that have, overnight, become soooo 2010s...

A is for Avo'

Back then, they were just avocados. And largely bypassed in supermarkets.

Runners-up: Alexa; AirPods.

B is for Brexit

No, wait! Don’t go to sleep! This paragraph is only 60 words long, and you’ve read 20 of them already. In 2010, with David Cameron as Prime Minister and a global recovery in full swing, life looked relatively stable. Then came a certain referendum in 2016… and, well, no newspaper has appeared without this word ever since.

Runners-up: binge watch; bromance.

C is for Covfefe

Donald Trump began the decade hosting The Celebrity Apprentice. In 2016 he became the most powerful man on the planet, and started firing Twitter broadsides that upended our lexicon. Covfeve was just the start... the apparent mis-typing of 'coverage' blew up the internet.

Runners-up: cronut; craft beer; cancel culture.

Ash plume from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull crater on May 15, 2010. Photo: Getty
Ash plume from Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull crater on May 15, 2010. Photo: Getty

D is for Despacitio

Disoriented yet? Just when you thought this 2017 earworm couldn't get any worse, Justin Bieber chimed in.

Runners-up: duck-face; drone; dab.

E is for Eyjafjallajökull

Still can't pronounce it? The Icelandic volcano wreaked havoc on European air travel in 2010, spewing ash that disrupted some 10 million travellers.

Runner-up: emoji.

F is for Fortnite

How old are you, buddy?

Runners-up: flexitarian; flygskam.

G is for Glamping

In 2010, if you wanted to camp, you did it in a tent. Now, you can 'glamp' your little heart out with everything from real beds to goose-down duvets and en suite loos. You snowflake.

Runner-up: to ghost.

H is for Hygge

OK, Scandinavia, we get it. You are better at EVERYTHING. Back in 2016/17, this take on cosiness ruled the world... and was less guilt-inducing than flygskam ('flight-shame').

Runners-up: hipster; humblebrag.

I is for Instagram

Instagram launched officially on October 6, 2010. Its influencers have gone on to leave no corner of the world un-influenced. Sigh.

Runners-up: iPad; influencer.

J is for JOMO

The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) was already a thing on January 1, 2010. But it took several years of screens to bring us full circle to the Joy Of Missing Out.

K is for KeepCup

In the 2010s, the world woke up to a climate emergency (but continued polluting at pace anyway). At a consumer level, no single product highlighted the new no-no on single-use plastics like the KeepCup.

M is for Mansplaining

In 2010, men explained and women listened. In the brave new world of 2020, 'mansplaining' has been outed for what it is... as has manspreading. Needless to say, both continue unchecked.

Runners-up: #MeToo; manbun; meme.

N is for Netflix

Shane Ross lingers behind Katie Taylor as she returns home to Dublin Airport. Photo: Frank McGrath
Shane Ross lingers behind Katie Taylor as she returns home to Dublin Airport. Photo: Frank McGrath

How did we live without streaming? Today, we binge on TV whenever and wherever we damn well want (I'm looking at you, toilet).

Runner-up: normcore.

O is for Overtourism:

Tourism grew at pace; super-popular destinations, not so much. A problem presented, with Venice, Dubrovnik, Barcelona and Santorini to the fore.

Runner-up: Storm Ophelia.

P is for Photobomb

Just ask Shane Ross.

Runners-up: poké bowls; podcasts.

Q is for Queer-Eye

The Fab Five could have been just another fluffy makeover show, but it seized on a cynicism-backlash to spark joy (sorry, Marie Kondo) in living rooms all over the world. Hello, self-care.

R is for Refudiate

Before Donald Trump, there was Sarah Palin.

S is for Selfie

A step forward, or back, in human evolution? History will be the judge, but a decade was all it took to turn us into a species of duck-facing idiots. The Oxford English Dictionary's 2013 Word of the Year.

Runners-up: shade; snowflake.

T is for Twerk

After Dads killed the dab, they got to work on twerking - hitting dancefloors all over the world to wrestle this trend to a painful death. Go Dads!

Runner-up: tablet; troll.

U is for Uber

In 2010, we just took taxis. How innocent life seemed!

V is for Vaping

Just say no, kids.

Runners-up: vegan; viral.

W is for Westeros

In one of the all-time great decades for TV, Game of Thrones was the show that ruled them all, introducing fans to a whole new universe of dragons, Direwolves, Dothrakis and... erm, Ed Sheeran. That ending, though?

Runners-up: WhatsApp; Wild Atlantic Way; wellness; woke.

X is for X-Men

Do they even make blockbusters without superheroes any more?

Y is for Yes

Two referendums brought resounding 'Yes' votes to the nation in the 2010s; on same-sex marriage in 2015 and abortion in 2018. Who would have thought it?

Runner-up: Yaaaas.

Z is for Gen Z

Our last hope? The generation born after 1995 is predicted to become the world's most influential in the decade ahead. Can Greta and Co finally save our planet?

We'll let you know on January 1, 2030.

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