New words for a changed world

George W. Bush

Pivotal moments in American history have always been expressed in shorthand: If you hear the words Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima or Three Mile Island, no further explanation is needed.

9/11 has achieved the same status, hoisting new phrases into the spotlight. Ten years after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, it is remarkable to reflect on how that day affected the American lexicon — the use of words in everyday speech.

Before 9/11, the word jihad was rarely used in conventional conversation — and even now it is misunderstood. To many, perhaps most Americans, it has overtones of a holy war. In fact, to Muslims, it just means a religious duty or struggle.

Islamist was once used to describe anyone, or anything, associated with the religion of Islam, but post-9/11 is taken to mean an Islamic terrorist.

Ground Zero was, until a decade ago, simply the area closest to a bomb explosion. Now, it has sacred overtones.

The phrase “first responder” tells you everything you need to know; it was used to describe those first to arrive at the World Trade Center site, and since then applies more commonly to  emergency workers in various fields.

When President George W. Bush declared a War on Terror, he was using a phrase never heard before. He did the same when, in his 2002 State of the Union address, he labeled Iran, Iraq and North Korea “the axis of evil.” The phrase was recently used in the title of a comedy tour.

Bush, too, specifically applied “evildoers” to those who would target the United States.

And he was responsible for giving “mission accomplished” — a phrase used often before — much stronger meaning.

Before 9/11, were we familiar with the words bioterrorism, burqa,  dirty bomb or homeland defense?
The heroism of passengers aboard Flight 93 introduced, following the words of Todd Beamer, “let’s roll.” This phrase is now used to describe a no-nonsense approach to just about anything.     


Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…


Cleavage complaint: Disneyland staffer orders curvy mom to…

A curvy mom-of-three says she filed a formal complaint after staff at Disneyland Resort in California ordered her to cover up her boobs. Melissa Behnken,…


Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…


Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…


‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'


Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.


'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.


MLB video highlights: Red Sox beat White Sox…

Red Sox walk 15 times in extra innings win


Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics:…

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics: 'I hope to be back'


Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery…

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery odds with loss


2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version


This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…


This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…


Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.


5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.