French dictionary in 50 year ‘life-changing word' game

What era-defining, “life-changing” words appeared the year you were born? French dictionary le Petit Robert has created an online game revealing exactly that, in celebration of 50 years of the publication.

26 May 2019
By Connexion journalist

On its website, the game asks participants to enter their year of birth, and their email address.

It then presents one - or several - words that entered the French language in that year, plus a short definition and context of how the word is used. The words have been chosen for their ability to showcase changing trends over the years.

Participants can try again, and enter a different year each time. The game has been created to celebrate the half-century anniversary of the famous dictionary.

Examples include the words “cha-cha-cha” (1955); “boum (party)” (1965); “piratage (online pirate/scams)” (1979); “people (celebrities)” (1988);  “blog” (2002); and “hashtag” (2009).

The full list of words in the game - described as “words that have impacted the past 50 years” and “changed our lives” - can be found in the books, Le Petit Robert Édition des 50 Ans, and Les 200 Drôles de Mots Qui Ont Changé Nos Vies Depuis 50 Ans by Alain Rey.

The dates are those quoted in le Petit Robert 2017 edition, and le Dictionnaire Historique de la Langue Française.

Wherever possible, the game has tried to state the year that the word was first heard and used in the French language, which may not necessarily be the same as the year it entered into le Petit Robert itself.

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