Words invented by writers (other than Shakespeare)

When one considers words that have entered the English language from the pen of an author, it is most often credited to William Shakespeare. Here are ten frequently used words invented by other authors.

 

Catch-22

Obviously this comes from the title of Joseph Heller’s classic novel, but interestingly the title was supposed to be Catch-18. To avoid confusion with another novel with 18 in the same name it was changed to the phrase that we are all familiar with today.

 

Cyberspace

Invented by William Gibson in a short story in 1982 to describe “a graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system,” the word has become commonplace in describing the internet.

 

Nerd

Created in 1950 by Dr Seuss, a nerd is an imaginary animal to be collected for a zoo. Less than 10 years later, it became a term often used in the manner understood today.

 

Intensify

Created by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in his Biographia Literaria in 1817.

 

Freelance

The first evidence of the use of the word was in Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott to describe mercenaries.

 

Yahoo

The name of a race in Jonathan Swifts 1726 novel Gulliver’s Travels.

 

Chortle

Lewis Carroll’s created the word in his poem “Jabberwocky,” derived from a combination of chuckle and snort.

 

Utopia

The title of Sir Thomas More’s fictional perfect-world island.

 

Mentor

The name of a character in Homer’s The Odyssey who provides advice to a son in his father’s absence.

 

Blatant

Created by Edmund Spenser in The Faerie Queene, preceding the word beast to describe a thousand tongued monster. Nice!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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