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Generation Y also Gen Y

noun [uncountable]

the generation of people born from the late seventies to the mid-nineties

Gen-Yer also Y-er

noun [countable]

a person born between the late seventies and the mid-nineties

'Gen Y's green demands for the workplace … The highly educated, mobile and tech-savvy age group that falls within the demographic band known as Generation Y wants a workplace that's like them: urban, flexible, collaborative, environmentally sensitive and unconventional.'

BusinessGreen 20th May 2010

'I proceeded to employ multiple forms of communication like a true Gen-Yer. I called my mom and dad while simultaneously G-chatting with several of my friends, e-mailing my brother, and texting friends …'

Bloomberg BusinessWeek 6th May 2010

I'm sad to say that I can remember a world in which 'I'll call you en route' meant finding a public telephone box, 'I'll send you a photo' meant popping a 4x6 inch print into an envelope and buying a stamp, and 'I'll need to do some research' meant trudging off to the nearest library. Yes, I am genuinely old. You, however, may barely remember a world without mobile phones, or where the Internet didn't exist to satisfy your every informational or communicative need. And if you're over 14 but under 30, then that makes you a fully paid-up member of Generation Y.

the precise age boundaries of Generation Y are not fixed, but most descriptions seem to agree that the term represents people born between 1979 and 1995

The expression Generation Y is a demographic term referring to a generation of people, particularly those from Western nations, who are characterized by their familiarity and everyday use of digital technology, online communication, new media, etc. The precise age boundaries of Generation Y are not fixed, but most descriptions seem to agree that the term represents people born between 1979 and 1995. The result of an increased number of births during the eighties and nineties, Generation Y is often thought to be the offspring of the large cohort of baby boomers, people born during the post-war baby boom of the 1950s. For this reason Generation Y is sometimes referred to as the Baby Boom Echo, and members of Generation Y, or Gen-Yers, as they are sometimes called, are alternatively referred to as echo boomers.

In addition to the tech-savvy nature of Generation Y (which has in turn led to the alternative label Net generation), other key traits include an increased environmental awareness, and a tendency towards liberal politics and cultural tolerance, respecting for instance the concept of same-sex marriage. Another characteristic of Gen-Yers is a tendency to stay living with their parents for much longer than previous generations did, or to return to the parental home after a period away, a trend which has spawned expressions such as Boomerang Generation, or Boomerang kids, in reference to the same social group.

Background – Generation Y or Gen Y

The expression Generation Y first appeared in the early nineties as a successive term in relation to the earlier expression Generation X. Generation X refers to people born between the early sixties and the late seventies – those of us who witnessed the end of the Cold War, and the inception and rise of technology such as cable television, video gaming, home computers and the Internet (that'll be me then!).

Generation Y is also known as the Millennial Generation, and its members are correspondingly dubbed Millennials. A further lexical alternative which locates this group in relation to its predecessors is the expression Generation Next.

There is already some evidence for use of the expression Generation Z as a logical progression from Generation Y in reference to people born between the mid-nineties and 2009. Since these young people have spent their formative years interacting and communicating via Internet-based media, they are also sometimes dubbed Generation I, the iGeneration, and even the Silent Generation.

by Kerry Maxwell, author of Brave New Words

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This article was first published on 5th July 2010.

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