Use Google’s Ngram Viewer to chart the popularity of various buzz words over the last century.


Ngram is a tool developed by the search engine giants that graphs phrase usage within books. We punched in a few current-day words and slang, along with some from previous eras and received both surprising and not-so-surprising results.


Typography versus Graphic Design

Looking at this chart, it seems as though typography has only become synonymous with graphic design in recent years. Typography has been around in some form since ancient times, used originally for punches and dies to create currency, but creating typography has become a far easier task with the inception of computers, making it a far less laborious process, and one that is incorporated into any modern-day graphic design curriculum. Graphic Design on the other hand seemed to begin its surge between the 50s and 70s, also coinciding with the popularity of the Swiss Design movement.


The only real surprise here is that the word “groovy” seemed to have a slight resurgence in the 2000s. We must have missed that boat.


The Sexual Revolution has come and gone, but the boundaries being pushed are ever widening as media such as radio, television and the written word become increasingly liberal. Are we really surprised that the usage of this word is at an all time high in the 2000s?


According to wikipedia, everybody’s favourite profanity was first used as a verb in the 1400s to describe the act of intercourse. Interestingly, according to Ngram, the word didn’t seem to reach prominence in literature until the mid 1950s. Our guess is that this signified a change from conservative writing approach to a more progressive one.


Coined in the 1940s, ‘hipsters’ referred to jazz enthusiasts that adopted a particular lifestyle – a dress code, a type of slang, use of drugs and a relaxed attitude. Fast forward to the 2000s – the word has had a resurgence and you might now associate hipsters with non-prescription thick glasses, free-trade organic coffee and carefully cultivated beards.


Canadian rapper, Drake popularised this acronym (You Only Live Once), which serves as the modern day answer to ‘Carpe Diem’. We were still a bit stumped as to why it would consistently show up in the Ngram viewer over the last century, that is until we searched through the relevant time frames below the graph and discovered references to Yolo County in California. Not quite the same word usage we expected but perhaps the residents adopt the same love of spontaneity as Drake.