😬 What we really mean when we say “cyber”

It’s nearly Black Friday, the traditional start to the holiday shopping season. And while you might participate in its digital counterpart, Cyber Monday, would you really tell someone you’re going to do some cyber shopping?

Maybe in the late 1990s or early 2000s you would have. Back then, we used cyber to describe a whole slew of new things the proliferation of the internet introduced us to: cybercafes, cyberattacks, cyberspeak.

Terms such as "cyberspace," "cyberattack" and "cybersecurity" are not hyphenated. Sometimes "cyber" is a separate modifier, such as with "cyber shopping." Use "Cyber Monday" to refer to the Monday after Thanksgiving.

Even if we don’t use it as much anymore, “cyber” is still a widely recognized shorthand for things related to computers or the internet. But it evolved from a word with a different meaning: cybernetics, which was coined by a mathematician in 1948 to mean the “theory or study of communication and control.” The word “cybernetics” was adapted from the Greek word “kybernΔ“tΔ“s,” meaning pilot or governor, which itself came from “kybernan,” the word meaning to steer or govern.

Given this etymology and the leading role we let our phones play in our lives, it’s a wonder we say “smartphone” instead of “cyberphone” πŸ™ƒ

We’re logging off cyberspace during the holiday weekend, so we’ll be back with more writing tips December 4.

And if you are planning to do some cyber shopping and are looking for a deal, we’re offering 10% off Stylebot subscriptions for new customers who sign up by the end of the year. Just use code HOLIDAY2023 at checkout.

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