Ronald C. Semone
08-28-2005, 12:29 PM
I have long been interested in obscure words or phrases which suddenly become popular, hang around awhile, and then (usually) die out. A good example is the word "oxymoron" which until a few years ago was only known to and used by literary scholars to refer to one particular type of figure of speech. Now rarely a day or two goes by that I don't see it used in the newspaper (usually, I might add, with, depending on your point of view, a new meaning or an incorrect meaning). Which brings us to the phrase "back story." I do not recall ever hearing this word before last Fall when it was frequently used in discussions of the TV hit "Lost." Since then I have seen it constantly in a wide variety of contexts. In yesterday's newspaper, for example, four different writers used it! The phrase does not appear in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, so I assume it is of fairly recent creation. Can anyone provide a cite for the phrase antedating "Lost"?