Neosense Word: adj. Rapidly growing in popularity, especially on the internet.

General denotation: adj. Of, relating to, or caused by a virus, an infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of living hosts.

Etymology: virus (Latin virus, “poison, sap of plants, slimy liquid, a potent juice,”) + -al (Middle English -al, “of, like, related to, pertaining to”).
The new meaning seems to date back to the early 2000s.

Here is the Urban Dictionary page for the new sense of “viral.”

Sociolectical Information:

This word is commonly used to refer to “viral videos,” videos that are shared rapidly on the internet, usually because of funny, cute, shocking, or thought-provoking content.

Survival Predictions:

This sense of the word “viral” is already quite common day-to-day English speech, and it describes a concept that is likely to last for a long time unless something about the internet changes dramatically and unexpectedly in the near future, so I think the word will survive.

Lexopinions: I think this word describes a concept that needs its own descriptor, and because this new meaning is fairly distinct in concept from the original medical meaning, I doubt it will cause much confusion.

Speak Your Mind