FirstMention.com explores the history and origins
of common products and phrases.
Here’s an exact date for you. On July 19, 2007, the Merriam Webster dictionary announced their list of new word entries for the year, including the trendy term, ginormous.
Here’s how the Fresno Bee wrote it up.
But what about the word itself? How long has ginormous been around?
Google News has a tremendous news archive search that let’s you see the growth of a new word (or an old word…the archives go back to the 1700’s!). From one mention of the term in 1992 and again in 1993 (and zero mentions in ’94 and ’95), ginormous took off and never looked back.
Ginormous in the News
But what about the very first ginormous? The word doesn’t appear in 1991 news archives. Was 1992 the earliest use?
Not hardly. The First Mention we found also has not only an exact date, but even identifies the originator.
A news article about helicopter pilots in the May 13, 1951 issue of the Zanesville Signal in Ohio tells the tale of one Carl Agar…
“…short, tanned, hard bitten operator of Okanagon Air Service of British Columbia…Agar had a new adjective to describe the size of his operations.
“They’re ginormous,” he said…”
So our thanks to Mr. Agar for coining the word all those years ago, and to Merriam Webster for giving it solid recognition more than 50 years after the fact.
To be perfectly honest, though, Mr. Agar may have had the FirstMention in North America, but he well may have picked up the word from the Brits, perhaps during WWII. The Oxford English Dictionary identifies ginormous as British soldier slang during the war, though I haven’t come across any actual uses of it (in print) myself.
And lastly, be sure to see the FirstMention of firstmention.com in this news article about, what else… ginormous.
Our FirstMention research is carried out in many sources, including historical newspaper archives, online family history records, state archives, and old books.