Nomophobia: Fear of being without a cellphone. Coined from no + mobile + phobia.
The first documented usage of nomophobia appeared in Britain in March 2008 after a study commissioned by the UK post office found that nearly 53 percent of people surveyed felt anxious when they lost their phone or had no coverage. The syndrome “has been found to induce stress levels similar to those of wedding day jitters and trips to the dentist,” reported the Metro (UK).
A more recent survey conducted by SecurEnvoy, which specializes in digital passwords, found that the numbers have increased to 66 percent. The Los Angeles Times reported last week that “People 18-24 tend to be the most nomophobic (77%), followed by people aged 25-34 (68%). The third most nomophobic group is 55 and older.”
The Times story used the more-common American term cellphone. But as Ben Yagoda reported last year in his Not One-Off Britishisms blog, the British import “mobile” is on the rise in the US. “The traditional U.S. equivalents have been, in order of adoption, cellular phone, cell phone and cell,” Yagoda wrote. He pointed to a Google Ngram showing the soaring incidence of mobile in American English between 1998 and 2008.
If you’re going to do it right, Yagoda noted, you should pronounce mobile “to rhyme with so vile.” And he added: “For a true telephonic Britishism, use on (instead of at) before giving your number, as in ‘Ring me on 555-1212.’”