Roald Dahl will always be remembered for his witty, beautifully written children’s books, the author having created some of our most beloved fictional characters.
The language he used to describe the vivid worlds of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, and Matilda was incredibly unique, the author playing with sounds and bending linguistic principles to create new words.
To honour what would have been Dahl’s 100th birthday, the Oxford English Dictionary has added numerous new words and phrases made famous by Dahl - including ‘Oompa Lumpa' and ‘witching hour’ - to their latest edition, available now. Many previously added words have also been revised in association with Dahl, including Frightsome and Gremlin.
Michael Proffitt, chief editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, said: “The inclusion in OED of a number of words coined by or associated with Roald Dahl reflects both his influence as an author and his vivid and distinctive style.
“For many children Roald Dahl’s work is not only one of their first experiences of reading, but also their earliest exposure to the creative power of language.”
In pictures: Roald Dahl's most enduring characters
In pictures: Roald Dahl's most enduring characters
1/12 Willy Wonka from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'
Willy Wonka (pictured being played by Gene Wilder in 1967) is a bizarre and slightly unsettling man but who can say no to that delicious chocolate?
2/12 The Oompa Loompas from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'
Despite the characters' questionable evolution from being African pygmies in early editions of the novel, the Oompa Loompas were so fantastical they captured the imagination of generations. The first film's version of the characters are still a popular fancy dress theme.
3/12 Veruca Salt from 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'
The girl who "wants it now" is so incredibly vile she ended up in the rubbish after being judged a bad nut by Willy Wonka's squirrels. An American alternative rock band even took her name.
4/12 The Twits from 'The Twits'
Mr and Mrs Twit are horrible, hideous and hateful, coating trees with glue to catch birds to at. But the Roly-Poly Bird and Muggle-Wumps teach them a lesson in the end.
Quentin Blake/House of Illustration
5/12 James from 'James and the Giant Peach'
James is beaten and starved by his cruel aunts after his parents are eaten by an escaped rhino but eventually gets to go on an adventure with the friends he has always waited for on his magic peach, ending up on the top of the Empire State Building.
6/12 Matilda from 'Matilda'
Every little girl who read 'Matilda' wondered what it would be like to be the main character. Apart from th abusive family, the telekinesis must be endless fun.
7/12 Miss Trunchbull from 'Matilda'
Miss Trunchbull, played by Pam Ferris in the 1996 film, is the aunt and headmistress of every child's worst nightmares. Just think of poor Bruce Bogtrotter and that cake.
8/12 The Big Friendly Giant from 'The BFG'
A 24-foot-tall BFG works giving out good dreams to children and saves them all from people-eating giants. Shame about the snozzcumbers.
9/12 The Grand High Witch from 'The Witches'
The Grand High Witch, seen here in the film, must be one of Dahl's most terrifying creations. Turning children into slugs and squishing them, she wanted to destroy them all, she had no hair or toes and claws for hands.
10/12 Mr Fox from 'Fantastic Mr Fox'
Mr Fox outsmarts those silly farmers, feeding his family by killing their chickens and avoiding starvation.
11/12 George from 'George's Marvellous Medicine'
Some people would say that swapping your gran's medicine with poison isn't ok but that isn't the point here.
12/12 Grandma from 'George's Marvellous Medicine'
Grandma was quite a character until she vanished: 'She was selfish grumpy old woman. She had pale brown teeth and a small pucker-up mouth like a dog's bottom.'
Here are six of the newly added words (via Quartz).
Implying something resembles or has the characteristics of Dahl’s work, “typically characterised by eccentric plots, villainous or loathsome adult characters, and gruesome or black humour.”
While Dahl wasn’t the first to put the words ‘golden’ and ‘ticket’ together, his story about the young boy Charlie and his escapades in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (the phrase dates back to 1801). The OED’s definition is: “Ticket; one that grants the holder a valuable or exclusive prize, experience, opportunity, etc.”
A mispronunciation of ‘human being’ used by the Big Friendly Giant in The BFG. However, the first use of the ‘human bean’ dates back to British satirical magazine Punch, who used the phrase in 1842.
Another entry originating from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Oompa Loompa’s were Willy Wonka’s workers who became associated with being orange and wearing dungarees thanks to Gene Wilder’s 1971 film adaptation.
Originally found in The American Thesaurus of Slang in 1942, ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’ became a household word following the release of The BFG.
Shakespeare first used “witching time” in Hamlet, yet it was Dahl who used ‘witching hour’ in The BFG to signify “a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.”Reuse content