In this article,

The headline is

"Modern phobias: The new fears caused by pressures of 21st century living"

Can you say the pressures of 21st century living? That sounds utterly unnatural to me. Shouldn't it be the pressures of living in the 21st century?

  • I think the noun phrase 21st century modifies the noun living so it acts like an adjective. Living means the way in which someone lives their life as in the stresses of city living. I see no problem with the structure.
    – Yuri
    Oct 3, 2016 at 10:53

3 Answers 3


In the article living is a noun, not a verb and means:

  • a particular manner, state, or status of life: luxurious living.

"21st century" refers to a condition or state which makes "living" so specific to this age.

Usage of the expression 21st century living appears to be more and more common in recent decades.

Ngram "20th century living" vs "21st century living."

Other usage examples:

From The Vegan Nutrition:

  • Whether professional athlete or weekend jogger, if you are serious about improving your health or athletic performance, you owe it to yourself to listen carefully to Brazier's advice for controlling the negative stresses of 21st-century living, while learning how to grow stronger from life's beneficial challenges.” —Joseph ...

From Construction Multimodal Perspectives:

  • However, current multiliteracies theory and practice suggests that a broader view of literacy and learning is necessary for 21st century living. The notion of multiliteracies allows us to expand not only our definition of literacy from traditional print views to digital ones but also promotes broader understandings of the arts as ...

"Modern phobias: The new fears caused by pressures of 21st century living"

The OP's sentence is an example of newspaper headlinese.

Reporters online, and non, will aim to write headlines in an economic way to save space, and time; the time it takes for a reader to understand what the article is referring to. The original title is acceptable, and makes sense, but it could be rewritten as:

Modern phobias: People's new fears that are caused by the pressures of living in the 21st century

  • @Rompey 21st-century as an adjective, anything is possible with English. The "non" refers to online. As for the suffix —ese, it's quite common, especially in adjectives expressing places and languages; e.g., Japanese, Portuguese, Maltese, and when we want to insinuate that something is similar to jargon, e.g. legalese, and textese.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 3, 2016 at 13:54
  • I thought you might not like it to stay here for long. So seeing that you're online and active, I gathered you'd read it and I deleted it. Now I see I shouldn't have and I'd eagerly reconstruct it should you wish it. Thanks a million for responding. Will you excuse my mental slowness and give me one more hint at the use of "non", i.e. how it refers to online.
    – Victor B.
    Oct 3, 2016 at 14:38
  • @Rompey to journalists who work online and non (not online)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 3, 2016 at 14:59
  • So I thought reading your answer. It was the use of it alone (not as in a non-smoker) that I had not met before and couldn't find any reference to. Thanks again, it's crystal clear now.
    – Victor B.
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:37
  • @Rompey glad to help :) I've made an edit to clarify. It could have been misinterpreted, so thanks for the feedback.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 3, 2016 at 15:55

There is nothing wrong with either of your sentences, but they may mean slightly different things.

21st century living

might describe modes of domestic life, how one lives one's life



living in the 21st century

describes a particular time period one is alive and includes the entire spectrum of events during that time period: scientific advancement, wars, politics, etc.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .