Nugget of Knowledge: New words that are old

LOL was used in the 1960s by doctors as an abbreviation for "little old lady"

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – The earliest recorded use of “OMG” goes back as far as 1917 in a letter by Admiral John Fisher to Winston Churchill.

Fisher writes that a new order of Knighthood is on the way. “O.M.G. (Oh! My! God!).”¬†Fisher was 76 years old when he wrote this letter.

The word “dude” was first used in 1883 and seems to have been come from “doodle” as in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

The young, fashionable men of New York City were known as “doods” or “dudes.” The female counterpart of the “dude” was known as a “dudine.”

Does “Xmas” take the “Christ” out of “Christmas?”

Sounds recent, but the letter “X” represents the Greek letter “Chi,” which is the first letter of the Greek word for Christ. We’ve been abbreviating it this way for at least a thousand years.

Nerd is a new word, right?

Nope. It was in the early 1950s that the word “nerd” became a part of teenage slang.

In 1951, an article in Newsweek read that “In Detroit, someone who once would be called a drip or a square is now a nerd.”

Where did it come from?

It may be a “ne’er-do-well.”

Certainly “LOL” for “laughing out loud” is new?

“LOL” was first used in the 1960s and was actually doctor’s slang for “little old lady.” Sometimes, the abbreviation was extended to “LOLINAD,” which stood for “little old lady in no apparent distress.”

And “freelancer” describes someone who works independently.

It sounds like a modern word, but it comes from the 14th century. Back then, medieval knights with no special allegiance to any king would often take their lances into battle for the most money. They were free lancing.

Did you miss an episode of Daybreak, or want to re-visit a previous ‘Nugget’? View previous ‘Nugget of Knowledge’ entries on

Do you have an idea for a ‘Nugget of Knowledge,’ send your idea in an email to