With lifespans getting longer and the structure of our lives in constant evolution, it is no surprise that changing circumstances are demanding new words.
Tweenagers is a wholly successful and well established example of this, a 21st century word to describe that awkward period between 10 and 14 when children are becoming more sophisticated but are not fully-fledged, hormonally-challenged actual teenagers.
And so at the other end of the scale comes Pretirement, a word which is slowly beginning to appear around the internet. Meanings are still being formed, but it seems to be shaking down into something which describes a new phase, namely the last period of someone’s working life in their early to mid-sixties, as they start to also focus on the things they want to do when they are fully retired.
That would be a good final meaning for pretirement, though there are currently conflicting definitions. For example, Shannon Ward and Diana Stirling believe it is a work-life balance choice that people can make much earlier in life, and have a flourishing website to prove it. Meanwhile, the Urban Dictionary reckons it is the period between higher education and work, the last chance you will have to relax for years. Interestingly, this is the meaning that has been submitted to the Collins new word suggestion project, though comments alongside the entry suggest it has been around in some form since 2005.
Nonetheless, it is clear that pretirement is a word that has not been given any kind of official recognition yet. It is being used to describe a variety of different phases, all of which are becoming a key part of modern life. I suspect it will finally become locked down as the final pre-retirement period, and it will be no surprise if it becomes as much a part of the English language as Tweenager in the next few years.