Smurf, Nerf, Buff and Other Old Words With New Meanings You Should Know

The diffusion of modern technology has changed almost everything in our lives, including what even the most common words mean. Instead of having to invent a word for every new thing or concept, our language is flexible enough that we can simply borrow old words and change their meanings. We don’t even need to think much about it! We’re so cool.

Below are some examples of relatively recent shifts in definitions driven by technology, nouns that are now verbs, and terminology that video gamers have claimed for themselves.

Old words with new meanings

Catfish – in the form of a verb – once meant “to catch catfish.” Now that means this and “trick someone on the network by creating a fake profile.” The noun can refer to either a fish or someone who catches catfish in a net. It has only existed since 2010 and is taken from the documentary Catfish .

Cloud: We know exactly when “cloud” was first used publicly to denote not the fluffy white shapes above us, but the storage of data on remote servers: August 9, 2006, when Google CEO Eric Schmidt discussed “cloud computing” ” technical conference.

Descriptor : The use of a descriptor to denote an “alias” actually predates the widespread use of the Internet. It first became popular with 1970s truckers using CB radios that referred to each other by knobs rather than names.

Ping : Ping usually meant a short beep or short beep. However, this now also applies to a computer asking another computer to test a connection, or one person sending an email to another person. ( I haven’t received a response from her yet; I ping her again. )

Twitter : Twitter intercepted the word “tweet” and the birds are furious .

Viral : This adjective originally referred to biological viruses, then came to mean computer viruses, and now it can mean anything that spreads like a virus.

Drone: Drone, meaning “remote controlled aircraft”, was first used in 1936 to describe an early unmanned aerial vehicle. It stuck.

For example : “Like” can mean, for example, a lot of different things, but before the advent of social networks, the phrases “He liked me” or “My meme got a million likes” would not make sense.

OLD : This word that catches your eye is almost an acronym for online dating.

Nouns that have become verbs

Informally, you can use a verb for any noun, but here are a few that have stuck.

Troll : Annoying people who joke with others for their own amusement have always been around, but calling them “trolls” and describing what they do as “trolling” seems to date back to Internet chatting in the 1990s.

Spam : Spam, canned meat, was released in 1937. But spam, junk mail, or email gets its name from Monty Python’s sketch, where the word “spam” is repeated over and over again to drown out the conversation. Calling duplicate / unwanted messages “spam” seems to have come from early chat programs in use in the 1970s, but the first documented use was in the 1990s. Someone has archived a discussion of the origin of the word “spam” in a multiplayer dungeon. The first documented commercial spam message was an advertisement for a new computer model from Digital Equipment Corporation. It was sent over the ARPANET in 1978 and 393 people were spammed in the incident.

Friend : The use of “friend” as a verb dates back to the early 13th century , but it meant something like “act like a friend” rather than “befriend someone,” and its use fell out of fashion. The modern meaning is more like “being friends” and goes back to early social networks like MySpace, where Tom was friends with everyone.

Text : The use of the word “text” as a verb is so widespread that it is hard to believe that it has been widely used since around the early 2000s. The oldest form of “texting” (meaning “to send a text message”) on the Internet was in 1998, although “text”, meaning “to write, write, or type by hand, in either capital or capital letters” dates back to the 1500s. years.

Gamer-specific words and their definitions

Nerf : When developers change the configuration of a game item to make it less powerful, it is called “weakened”. Example: “I can’t believe they weakened Luigi in Super Smash Bros. 4 ! ” Styrofoam football.

Buff : The opposite of a nerf. Buffing is when developers make a game element more powerful. It is also used in PRG and MMORPGS to describe the temporary boost given by the player.

Camping : Find a vantage point in a shooter and just stay in it. Whether you think this is a legitimate tactic depends on whether you are a camper or not.

Easter Egg Hidden Content In the late 1970s, an Atari programmer included his name in the secret section of the Adventure! and didn’t tell anyone. One Atari executive called it the “Easter egg,” and the name stuck. Now he can refer to something hidden in any media.

Grind : Performing repetitive tasks in the game to gain some advantage (eventually).

Mod : Brawl a game by fans or amateur developers. It is short for modification.

Smurf : A higher level player makes a lower level alt to thwart matchmaking functions and overwhelm newbies. It dates back to the 1990s, and a couple of Warcraft II players chose “PapaSmurf” and “Smurfette” for their low-level characters.


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