Modern Words and Phrases in the Past

In the middle of reading a novel by Dickens, or watching a play of Shakespeare's, you are taken aback by a familiar word or phrase that just doesn't belong in that ancient setting, and you blurt out "Did he just say that?". Sometimes a word you think is new has been around for a long time; often the word had a different meaning now forgotten, or the meaning slowly changed over time. In other cases, the author has simply put together a string of words that accidentally have acquired a new meaning or status in modern times, so that it is as disconcerting as hearing your grandpa quoting rap to you.

Although I have had this experience many times, I have only recently decided to keep track of these strange creatures.

Google is the name of a search company, and now even a verb meaning the simple act of searching for something online. However, it may have had a prior existence:

"Odd about scepticism, you know, Simon. I've known a few sceptical philosophers and with the exception of Parlabane they have all been quite ordinary people in the normal dealings of life. They pay their debts, have mortgages, educate their kids, google over their grandchildren, try to scrape together a competence precisely like the rest of the middle class."
Robertson Davies, "The Rebel Angels", 1982.

New World Order was a catch phrase running around during the fall of the East European communist regimes, and then became associated with either a sinister plan for controlling the world, or with simple-minded belief that the world and its people were now truly better.

"He said: 'I have arranged that your lesson - I hope I shall able to say lessons - will be given by a compatriot. That is always, if possible, our system. It induces sympathy and breaks the new world order slowly.'"
Graham Greene, "The Confidential Agent", 1939.
(There's the strong possiblity that this was simply a typographical mistake for new word order, but this is what appears in my undated Viking edition of the book.)

We expect a parachute to be unique to the age of airplanes. However, the French were going up in balloons before the revolution, and the word parachute was used by Francois Blanchard in 1785 to describe the same kind of "anti-falling" device used today.

The roof was of blue slate, clean as a table, and unbroken from gable to gable; the windows were glazed with sheets of plate glass, a temporary iron stovepipe passing out near one of these, and running up to the height of the ridge, where it was finished by a covering like a parachute.
Thomas Hardy, "A Laodicean", 1881,

Last modified on 14 May 2011.