On October 18, the Biden administration announced plans to regulate “a group of long-lasting, human-made chemicals that pose health risks to millions of Americans, even as they continue to be used in an array of products such as cosmetics, dental floss, food packaging, clothing and cleaning supplies.” The polyfluoroalkyl and perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are “more commonly known as ‘forever chemicals,’ which do not break down naturally and have turned up in the water supplies of communities across the country,” the Washington Post reported.
Certain chemicals have been tagged as “forever” for a while—I found a 2019 article about them, and the usage is probably older than that. But forever hasn’t been an adjective forever, and that’s what interests me here: not just forever chemicals but forever homes, forever stamps, forever cars, forever sneakers, and much more.
The Forever Purge (2021), a horror-action film directed by Everardo Gout, is the fifth film in the Purge series.
Adverbial forever, meaning “always,” first appeared in print around 1275. Adjectival forever, meaning “permanent” or “for the foreseeable future,” is a relative newcomer. The OED’s earliest citation is from an 1879 article in a Quaker magazine, The Friend, published in London: “He..would sign himself, ‘Your most humble servant, and to be your future and forever friend in the spiritual world.’”
We don’t see “forever friend” much now; it’s been superseded by Best Friends Forever, I guess. Here are the forevers that linger: