• millennial •
mê-len-i-yêl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun
Meaning: 1. (Adjective) Pertaining to a millennium. 2. (Noun) People reaching adulthood around the year 2000, Generation Y.
Notes: The new usage is the reference to people reaching adulthood around the year 2000. We have already seen millennium. Today's word is short for millennial generation, which is a longer and trendier way to say "youth" or "young people". It represents for businesses a highly profitable market and to politicians a notoriously liberal voting sector.
In Play: The millennial market is the youth market for advertisers: "Although a millennial, Fred's favorite movies are the old ones, and his favorite TV channel is Turner Classics." Since they are just starting their adult lives, they spend more money than the 'twilight generation': "Restaurants catering to millennials offer more locally grown 'locatarian' foods, like free-range meat and eggs, and organic vegetables."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a New Latin (Latin from about 1500) word that begins with Latin mille "thousand" and continues with a variant of Latin ann-us "year", and ends with the adjective ending -ial. No one knows where mille came from. In Greek "thousand" is khilioi, from which English borrowed kilo- as in kiloton and kilobyte. Million comes from Italian milione "big thousand", augmentative of mille "thousand". Annus (as in per annum) is yet another mystery. It apparently came from the past participle of a Proto-Indo-European word at-no- "go, pass", as in "time passed (past)". However, we find no trace of it outside Latin.