The Top Ten: Invented words
John Rentoul is chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, and visiting professor at King's College, London, and at Queen Mary University of London. Previously he was chief leader writer for The Independent. He has written a biography of Tony Blair, whom he admired more at the end of his time in office than he did at the beginning.
Sunday 27 July 2014
Thanks to Paul Dickson for this collection. His book Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers has just been published by Bloomsbury. To a word nerd (a word that first appeared in 1950 in Dr Seuss's If I Ran the Zoo, in which Gerald McGrew wants “a Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker too…”, for his collection) it is a delight.
Gelett Burgess created a character called Belinda Blurb, who enthused about a book of his on its jacket in 1907.
First used by Edward Hunter in a report for Miami Daily News in 1950.
One could be a bore before 1852, but it was Charles Dickens in Bleak House who gave us an English word for ennui.
First used by William Gibson in a short story in 1982, it became popular after reappearing in his sci-fi novel Neuromancer in 1984.
Coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass, 1871, a blend of chuckle and snort.
Invented by Maury Maverick, a Democratic Congressman from Texas, who banned it in a memo in 1944: “Anyone using the words activation or implementation will be shot.”
Originally it was a fictional university in William Makepeace Thackeray's novel Pendennis, 1848. Later used to describe Oxford and/or Cambridge.
First used by Jeremy Bentham in An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, 1789.
Initially a printing plate, first used by Walter Lippmann in Public Opinion, 1922, to mean a simplified idea of character.
Coined by William Whewell, replacing “philosopher”, in The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, 1840. He also invented “physicist”.
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