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Who is responsible for giving generations their name?

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When referring to the various generations in the workplace when can become confused about which name to use. Our most advanced seniors are generally considered to be part of the builder or traditionalist generation they may also be referred to as the “Greatest Generation”. Baby boomers seemed easy enough to label but in recent years they have ben relabeled the “sandwich generation”.

Generation X seems unambiguous but it is the only generation that is referred to using a capital “G”. Generation Y can be called the millennial generation but the term millennials also to their children and can be referred to as generation Z.

Here are the answers to these ponderings. First there is no governing body that determines the name of a particular generation. Names become names or references based on repeated use. Society as a whole, therefore, determines how a generation is referred to. Baby boomers are undergoing a small name change as they are generation sandwich between taking care of their seniors while still having their children dependent on them.

Millennials were first called generation Z as an alphabetical progression generations X and Y. Somehow society banded together and thought that the term millennial, which was referred to generation Y, was more appropriate for babies born around the turn of the millennium as opposed to those we came of age during the millennium.

As for the capitalization of Generation X is simply because the term comes from the proper name of a book. This is unlike the other generations where the term is not a proper noun, therefore not capitalized.

Therefore it is proper to use whatever term society in your circles is using.

© Max Impact, used with permission.

Learn more about today’s generations:

  • Builders / Traditionalists, also known as the greatest generation, born before 1944
  • Baby boomers, sometimes relabeled the sandwich generation, born between 1943 and 1964
  • Generation X, born between 1961 and 1980
  • Generation Y, sometimes referred to as the millennial generation, born between 1977 and 2000
  • Millennials, sometimes referred to as generation Z, born after 1998

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