Words Invented by Famous Authors: 2

atkins-bookshelf-wordsEvery writer has experienced the frustration of knowing what they want to say but not being able to come up with just the precise word; there is even a word for that: lethologica. For writers, finding the right word is immensely rewarding; Michael Mackenzie, a Canadian playwright, explains: “People often forget the sheer joy of finding the right word which expresses a thought is extraordinary, an emotional rush of an intense kind.” So what happens when you turn to a dictionary, and among the hundreds of thousands of words you can’t find what you are looking for? Then do what these famous authors did, and simply invent a new word or term. Lexicographer and lifelong word collector, Paul Dickson, has coined a new term for words invented by authors — authorisms. Here are some clever words invented by famous writers:

anchovy (William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part I)

aviator (Jules Verne, The Clipper of the Clouds)

bedazzled (William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew)

blabbermouth (John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle)

blatant (Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene)

blurb (Gelett Burgess, Burgess Unabridged)

cyberspace (William Gibson, Burning Chrome)

doublethink (George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four)

dreck (James Joyce, Ulysses)

eucatastrophe (J.R.R. Tolkien, in a private letter)

sensuous (John Milton, Of Reformation Touching Church Discipline in England)

serendipity (Horace Walpole, private letter to Horace Mann)

superman (George Bernard Shaw translation of “Ubermensch” that first appeared in Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche)

svengali (George du Maurier, Trilby)

tattarrattat (James Joyce, Ulysses)

twitter (Henry Fielding, Tom Jones)

witticism (John Dryden, The State of Innocence)



Read related posts: Words Invented by Famous Authors
Words Invented by Dickens

Words Invented by Disney

For further reading: Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd Edition edited by John Simpson and Edmund Weiner, Oxford University Press (1991)
Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers by Paul Dickson, Bloomsbury (2014)
Brewers Dictionary of Phrase & Fable edited by John Ayto, Collins Reference (2006)
Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson, Facts on File (2008)



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