A not so deep dive into a not so new neologism

17 April 2024

When it comes to what’s published online, I consider myself a moderately well-read person. Obviously, I’m not across every last thing posted on the web, but I probably spend a good couple of hours a day following news sites, what’s on the RSS feeds I subscribe to, social media, and so on.

Despite this, what I’d describe as big news stories still seem to slip me by. I’m sometimes surprised to read, for example, that a major international sports fixture is about commence. Or a music act that is otherwise a household name, is preparing to play their first show locally, and I had no idea they were even in the country.

Maybe that’s why — prior to a few days ago — I’d seemingly missed seeing the term deep dive, which is being used to refer to in-depth news stories, and blog posts, on a given topic. It’s quite possible however I missed seeing the neologism, in my daily futile attempts to sidestep that other overused noob of a term, reach out.

Of course neither deep dive, nor reach out are neologisms, new terms, as such. People I’m sure have been deep diving, or feel as if they have been, in the oceans and other bodies of water for eons. Similarly, people have been reaching out to grab an apple from the fruit bowl, or take a book off a shelf, for many long centuries.

But it is the connotation these terms are used in, that is new, or rather, somewhat new. So before writing a post heralding the advent of a freshly minted neologism, in this case deep dive, I decided to have a look around. This actually amounted to a pretty perfunctory look around, consisting of but a single search engine query.

That query led me to Merriam-Webster, a “leading provider of language information for more than 180 years”. Thanks to their listing of deep dive, I learned the term had been used to describe “an exhaustive investigation, study, or analysis of a question or topic”, since, wait for it, 1986.

1986. That’s like ten years before the internet as most of us know it, come along. Either I’ve been hanging out in all the wrong places online, all this time, or someone on TikTok has only recently made the term deep dive go viral. Obviously, my money is on the latter.