io9, “The Bizarre Evolution of the Word ‘Cyber'”

September 16, 2013

Annalee Newitz, “The Bizarre Evolution of the Word ‘Cyber’” (io9, Sept. 16, 2013)

Ben Zimmer, who writes about linguistics for the Wall Street Journal, agreed with Holden, noting that the seemingly-incongruous ideas of cybersex and cyberwar “grew up side by side.” The earliest recorded use of the term “cybersecurity” came in 1989, the exact same year when the word “cyberporn” was coined. But neither term was dominant. […]

Zimmer pointed out that Douglas Adams may have invented the idea of cybersex back in 1982, when he remarked in Life, the Universe and Everything that “Zaphod had spent most of his early history lessons plotting how he was going to have sex with the girl in the cybercubicle next to him.” As more college age people began piling on to the internet in the mid-1990s, cybersex became trendy slang for what you did with your long-distance boyfriend using the university dial-up connection. And, like most slang, it quickly got shortened to cyber.

Read the rest here. (Related Wall St. Journal column)

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