Sexting - a word newly added to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary will always be associated with the era in which we live.
Some among the 100 words added during this year's annual update of the venerable old dictionary have been around for decades - systemic risk, for example. Other words - e-reader, is one - have galloped headlong into our language at the same breakneck speed that technology is evolving.
Our language is always changing. After the first American dictionaries were compiled in the early 19th century, new words were added as dictionaries were massively rewritten into entirely new editions. Today's technology enables publishers to add new words every year.
The succeeding lists of new words give us a knothole-in-the-fence look at life in these United States during the eras in which words came into the lexicon.
While Merriam-Webster's added words like "man cave" and "life coach" this year, we find a different world altogether, and a country with an entirely different focus, in the new words added right after World War II to the massive Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition, which was first published in 1939.
The extensive list of new words included atom bomb, bomb bay, wolf pack, diversionary, dive bomb, biological warfare and jeep.
Some words had new meanings added to what was already listed.
Dry, to practice without ammunition, a dry run.
Beam, a stream of directional radio signals.
Can, short for tin can.
Alligator, a flatbottom armed and partly armored vehicle ... used for landing troops.
Pen, a dock or slip for reconditioning submarines.
Technology, science and innovation created new words.
Radar, nylon, amphetamine, airway, air strip.
Words that were propelled into the vocabulary of Americans by waves of European immigration dating to before the turn of the century, as well as words signaling changing social customs and the way people lived are also evident:
Soap opera, a radio serial drama on a daytime commercial program, chiefly for housewives.
Some have meanings that have come and gone. Other words added to the dictionary in the 1940s have disappeared altogether.
Trucking, a swaying, shuffling dance step.
Wobbie, a cross between a carrot and beet
Pigeon, one's business or affairs, "That's your pigeon."
Aeroneurosis, a nervous disorder of aviators caused by stress.
TD, a tank destroyer.
Blimp, a diehard of ultraconservative, nationalistic outlook.
A single new word summed up a worldwide revolution in health care:
An expert in historical linguistics can probably pinpoint the era in which something was said or written simply by looking at what words are used and how they are strung together.
And we all know you can tell a lot about a person by how he uses language.
For better or worse, our era will forever be known by the new words we contributed to the lexicon, including: bucket list, f-bomb and aha moment.