Word of the Day

cyber Monday

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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


the Monday after the US Thanksgiving holiday, when there is a big increase in shopping on the internet

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

Cyber Monday is a compound noun formed from cyber, meaning ‘relating to computers and the internet’, and Monday. Cyber has been around for a surprisingly long time, being first recorded in the early 1960s as a shortened form of ‘cybernetic’. Cybernetic and the related noun cybernetics were coined in the late 1940s based on a Greek word meaning ‘steersman’, because they originally referred to the communication and control systems of living organisms and machines.


According to Kerry Maxwell  in her 2006 BuzzWord on the subject for Macmillan Dictionary, ‘the expression cyber Monday was coined in November 2005 by the US National Retail Federation. The term was based on research revealing that, in 2004, 77% of online retailers reported a significant increase in sales on the Monday after Thanksgiving’. As Kerry points out, the term was inspired by the earlier ‘Black Friday‘, created in the 1980s as a label for the day after the US holiday of Thanksgiving, which always falls on a Thursday near the end of November. Retailers noticed a surge in purchases on what is effectively a holiday, since many people turn Thanksgiving into a long weekend off. The ‘black’ part of the expression refers not to doom and gloom  but to the fact that profits are traditionally recorded in black ink, leading to the expression in the black. As a reflection of growing concern about unbridled consumerism and its effects on the planet, campaigners have declared ‘Buy Nothing Day’ to coincide with Black Friday, or in some countries on the following Saturday. Supporters are urged to buy nothing on that day and to take part in activities that challenge excessive consumption. Other organizations suggest using the occasion to buy gifts for those in need.


“You may have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There’s another day you might want to know about: Giving Tuesday. The idea is pretty straightforward. On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, shoppers take a break from their gift-buying and donate what they can to charity.”
(Bill Gates)

Related words

bargain, consumerism, e-tail, shopping basket

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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