Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Why are we called Generation Y?

What's Generation X anyway?

What about Baby Boomers?

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

"Generation X" generally refers to :

the generation born in the United States after 1965.

Thus, that'd be your parents. We're called "Generation Y", because "generation Y" is the generation after our parents, and generally refers to:

the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s

These two terms are generally(note, generally) used to refer to people born within these time periods, and Gen Y, usually refers to the youths and young adults of this world. I suppose in later times however, we would become the Gen X(Born 1995 - 2011?), and our children the Gen Y(2012 - 2040?)

"Baby Boomers" refers to someone born after the war. Right after the war, there was a baby boom. There was one in USA, and there was one in Australia, as far as I know. Our grandparents are baby boomers.

share|improve this answer
5  
** that'd be your parents.** No, it wouldn't. –  GEdgar Jul 28 '11 at 15:11
3  
I resent the implication that only gen-y'ers use the internet <grin>. I've been programming computers since before some of you "young pups" were born, and using the internet largely since it's commercial inception. –  Lawrence Dol Jul 28 '11 at 20:45
4  
@Software Monkey - That's part of the reason I didn't vote this one up. The terms are fuzzy enough without further confusing things by assuming the reader's age and working everything from there. (Oh, and I was using modems and online services like BBS's back when "the internet" was three college computers in California. Off my lawn, sonny!). –  T.E.D. Jul 29 '11 at 13:01

As a "Gen X'er", I'll attempt to fill in between the lines on the RiMMER's wikipedia answer (which is good).

Immediately after WWII in the USA there was a huge surge in childbirth. (All the men quit fighting overseas and came home...I'll let you do the math). Interestingly, it didn't just stop a few months after it started, but continued with a slight tapering off for the better part of 10 years or so. The phrase coined for it was The Baby Boom.

Once these kids started to grow up, marketing folks started to realize that they could make a lot of money by appealing just to this particular generation of kids (and later adults). There were a whole lot of them, they in general had different attitudes on things than previous generations (having never seen a full-on World War). Most importantly they were entering prime buying years, which are roughly 18-45. Marketing weasels call this "The Golden Demographic." The marketing weasels need a name to call this handy grouping of consumers, so they borrow that previous term and call them Baby Boomers (sometimes shortened to Boomers). Easy, right?

Now eventually (starting in the late 60's) these folks have kids, and by the mid-80's those kids start entering the "Golden Demographic". Marketing weasels realize they are going to need to start studying and targeting this new batch of consumers. So they have to come up with a name for them. However, we (born in '67 here) aren't really a particularly coherent lot, so this isn't an easy task. Eventually, they just give up and call us Generation X (presumably hoping a better name eventually comes along). It never did, so we are now forever "Generation X" to the marketing folks.

Of course eventually we start having kids too, and they start turning 18 sometime around the early 2000's. So now the marketing weasels need another new name for this new batch of consumers. Since marketing weasels are fundamentally a lazy bunch, they like to go with Generation Y. However, the new millennium is a rather convenient marker, so they also sometimes refer to them as millennials.

Does all this sound a little cynical? Well, I'm a Gen-X'er. We're all cynical. Just ask the marketing weasels. That's what they always told me I am...who am I to say otherwise?

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for being both sarcastic ("marketing weasels") and sardonic ("aren't really a particularly coherent lot"). –  rajah9 Jul 28 '11 at 12:52
1  
rajah9 - Thanks. I'm glad to know I'm representing my generation properly. :-) –  T.E.D. Jul 28 '11 at 13:00
    
+1 for the laughs, so let me ask another question as a Gen-Y (I was 17 in 2000). What will be the generation name of our children? Gen-Z? I hope 2012 guys won't hear that, they will call them last generation :). –  Cem Kalyoncu Jul 28 '11 at 20:58
    
@Cem Kalyoncu - Probably (see above about lazyness). A far better question would be "What will they call the next generation after Z?" I've been asking myself that one. They could just do some actual work and come up with a real name. More likely they will wrap-around to A... :-{ –  T.E.D. Jul 28 '11 at 21:03

The Wikipedia article explains:

Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation (or Millennials), Generation Next, Net Generation, Echo Boomers, describes the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the Millennial generation starts and ends, and commentators have used birth dates ranging somewhere from the mid-1970s to the mid 1990s, with some sources including as late as the early 2000's.

The term Generation Y first appeared in an August 1993 Ad Age editorial to describe teenagers of the day, which they defined, at that time, as separate from Generation X, and then aged 12 or younger (born after 1981), as well as the teenagers of the upcoming ten years.

Generation X, commonly abbreviated to Gen X, is the generation born after the Western post–World War II baby boom ended.

The term Generation X was coined by the Magnum photographer Robert Capa in the early 1950s. He would use it later as a title for a photo-essay about young men and women growing up immediately after the Second World War. The project first appeared in "Picture Post" (UK) and "Holiday" (US) in 1953. Describing his intention, Capa said 'We named this unknown generation, The Generation X, and even in our first enthusiasm we realised that we had something far bigger than our talents and pockets could cope with'.

share|improve this answer
    
This answer would be improved by expanding on what Wikipedia has to say or adding your own interpretation. –  aedia λ Sep 30 '11 at 3:01

I view the Millenials as those born beginning in the late 1970s because:

  1. Studies that included the late '70s babies prove that even they are liberal on social issues such as gay marriage and green technologies — see, for example, "Generation We," by Eric Greenberg and Karl Weber. It is a book that accurately describes the attitudes of this cohort of individuals.

  2. An online chart proves that the "echo boom" really began in 1977, when 159,000 more babies were born than during '76.

  3. Those born in '78 were just under 18 when the Internet went mainstream in 1995.

  4. Generations are getting shorter due to accelerating technological and cultural change.

share|improve this answer
1  
Welcome to EL&U, True Knowledge. This answer could be improved by providing references or examples of the term "millenials" being used to describe this generation. This question also already has an accepted answer; you might gain more satisfaction from browsing our new questions for those that have not been well answered. –  aedia λ Sep 30 '11 at 3:07

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.