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Tuesday, January 19, 1999 Published at 17:59 GMT


What bugged you in 1998?

The Millennium Bug: so you know what it means, but what about how it looks?

It seems as if the new millennium and everything it threatens to bring with it has been on our minds more than we think.

According to a poll carried out by the Collins English Dictionary, Millennium Bug comes out as the term most representative of 1998.

Beating Viagra, Zippergate and Girl Power to the top slot, millennium bug was voted the word that was on the minds of the British public most last year.

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Millennium bug, referring to possible problems caused by computers not allowing for the 2000 date, had an greater impact than the much-publicised Millennium Dome.

Other words and phrases that preyed on peoples' minds were Furby (the electronic toy), Cool Britannia, Docusoap and Monicagate.

There were also a few new words coined from life in 1998, for example, grey market, the supermarket practice of buying up and selling off excess stock of branded goods, and blamestorming, which is a meeting to discover why a project went wrong.

Moving with the age, there is now a mouse potato, which is the computer version of a couch potato, and pharming, breeding animals that are genetically modified to produce drugs.

And times certainly have changed. The word, television, which was in 1997 judged to be the one word which best sums up the millennium, was considered passe this year and replaced with digital television.

The list of words published annually is meant to reflect the advent of phrases and words into common usage in every year of the 20th Century.

Every word featured reflects an important event, a scientific discovery, or a trend in popular culture, with the aim of indicating how the evolution of language reflects the history of our times.

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