Relationship – ngrams

There are some word trends that I can understand, some make sense. Even if all I have is a rough theory about the change in use of the word, at least I have a theory.

And then there are those that I’m just really unsure about, like today’s ngram.

As always, see here for an intro to Google’s powerful ngram tool.

So the word that leaves me a little bewildered is…



Back in 1800 we pretty much never used the word. It steadily increased in use for the next 100 years and then increased somewhat more rapidly for the following 100 years. The increase was steady, predictable, consistent. Most words do not increase or decrease with such banality, and not over the course of two full centuries.

And it finally leveled out (more or less) around 1980.

What does it mean? Why the change? What happened in 1980?

I’m not sure. I leave that for you to contemplate.