Words Invented by Famous Authors

Most English words have their roots in older Germanic languages, and sometimes Latin or French, but other words have been invented recently, often by famous English authors.

Words Invented by Famous Authors

Words Invented by Famous Authors

Most English words have their roots in older Germanic languages, and sometimes Latin or French, but other words have been invented recently, often by famous English authors. Sometimes authors are unable to find a precise word to fit the meaning they’re searching for, and they decide to make one up. Authors such as Lewis Carroll and Dr. Seuss delighted in inventing nonsensical words, and some of them were an instant success with their public. Other authors, including Shakespeare, had such a prodigious command of the English language that their inventions seemed completely natural, and were quickly accepted as part of the English lexicon.

The relatively new genre of science fiction has seen some of the most interesting innovations in literature. The Canadian author William Gibson, who is famous for his dystopian representations of a technology-filled future, coined the term ‘cyberspace’ in 1982. The Czech writer Karel Čapek invented the word ‘robot,’ as long ago as 1920, but it was popularised by Isaac Asimov, who also made the word into an adjective, ‘robotic.’

Words That William Shakespeare Invented

Words That William Shakespeare Invented

Authors have been coining words long before the last century. John Milton, writer of the epic, seventeenth-century poem Paradise Lost, called the capital of Hell ‘Pandemonium.’ The word entered the general vocabulary of the public, but came to mean a state of chaos. In the sixteenth century, the poet Edward Spenser invented the word ‘blatant’ to describe a monster in his epic poem The Faerie Queen. Almost one hundred years before him, the theologian and statesman Sir Thomas More came up with the word ‘utopia,’ to describe the kind of perfect, ideal place that could never actually exist.

The famous author Charles Dickens was an accomplished inventor of words, and was the first to use the popular phrase ‘the creeps,’ as well as classic expressions such as ‘on the rampage,’ and ‘devil-may-care.’ He was the pioneer of words such as ‘abuzz,’ ‘flummox,’ and ‘whizz-bang.’ In the following century, the Irish writer James Joyce coined the term ‘quark,’ which has famously been borrowed by physicists to describe the elementary particles of the same name.

J.R.R. Tolkien was one of the most accomplished writers of fantasy to work in the twentieth century, but he also invented the occasional word. ‘Hobbit,’ has entered many of the world’s most respected dictionaries, and is used by people to describe anything diminutive. He is also credited for inventing the word ‘tween,’ which he used to describe juvenile hobbits.

A drawing J.R.R. Tolkien made of a hobbit

A drawing J.R.R. Tolkien made of a hobbit

Some of the most prolific inventors of words have been writers who raised nonsense to the level of a fine art. Lewis Carroll invented the word ‘chortle,’ to describe an abrupt sound halfway between a laugh and a snort, as well as the word ‘vorpal,’ to describe something sharp and deadly. All around the world, players of role-playing games are familiar with vorpal swords. Lewis Carroll even invented a word to describe inventing words. A ‘portmanteau word,’ is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two different words. As well as ‘chortle,’ Lewis Carroll invented portmanteau words such as ‘frabjous,’ a cross between fabulous and joyous, and ‘mimsy,’ a cross between miserable and flimsy.

Children all around the English-speaking world love Dr. Seuss, and some of his wonderfully quirky words have made their way into the vocabularies of adults, and even some respectable dictionaries. If you’ve ever called someone a ‘nerd,’ you’ve used a word that Dr. Seuss coined to describe a strange creature from the land of Ka-Troo. He is also the inventor of the word ‘grinch,’ which is a popular reproach at all times of the year, not just during Christmas.

Words that Shakespeare invented

Dr. Seuss’ depiction of a nerd

The most prolific inventor of all, however, has to be William Shakespeare. This legendary English playwright coined words with reckless abandon, scattering his inventions throughout his plays as though he were desperately trying to double the size of the English lexicon. Shakespeare is sometimes credited for inventing over 1,700 English words, including such familiar words as ‘dawn,’ ‘generous,’ ‘lonely,’ ‘champion,’ ‘gloomy,’ ‘bandit,’ ‘elbow,’ ‘luggage’ and ‘torture.’ He also coined countless compound words, including ‘eyeball,’ ‘moonbeam,’ birthplace,’ and ‘bloodstained.’ Sometimes he would make new words by adding ‘un,’ or ‘dis,’ to an existing word, as in the case of ‘undress,’ and ‘discontent.’ At other times he would make a noun into an adjective, such as ‘drugged’ or ‘flawed,’ or an adjective into a noun, such as ‘savagery.’ English has been enriched by the inventions of countless authors, but Shakespeare has left his mark on the language more than any of them.

Words Invented by Famous Authors

Words Invented by Famous Authors

Most English words have their roots in older Germanic languages, and sometimes Latin or French, but other words have been invented recently, often by famous English authors. Sometimes authors are unable to find a precise word to fit the meaning they’re searching for, and they decide to make one up. Authors such as Lewis Carroll and Dr. Seuss delighted in inventing nonsensical words, and some of them were an instant success with their public. Other authors, including Shakespeare, had such a prodigious command of the English language that their inventions seemed completely natural, and were quickly accepted as part of the English lexicon.

The relatively new genre of science fiction has seen some of the most interesting innovations in literature. The Canadian author William Gibson, who is famous for his dystopian representations of a technology-filled future, coined the term ‘cyberspace’ in 1982. The Czech writer Karel Čapek invented the word ‘robot,’ as long ago as 1920, but it was popularised by Isaac Asimov, who also made the word into an adjective, ‘robotic.’

Words That William Shakespeare Invented

Words That William Shakespeare Invented

Authors have been coining words long before the last century. John Milton, writer of the epic, seventeenth-century poem Paradise Lost, called the capital of Hell ‘Pandemonium.’ The word entered the general vocabulary of the public, but came to mean a state of chaos. In the sixteenth century, the poet Edward Spenser invented the word ‘blatant’ to describe a monster in his epic poem The Faerie Queen. Almost one hundred years before him, the theologian and statesman Sir Thomas More came up with the word ‘utopia,’ to describe the kind of perfect, ideal place that could never actually exist.

The famous author Charles Dickens was an accomplished inventor of words, and was the first to use the popular phrase ‘the creeps,’ as well as classic expressions such as ‘on the rampage,’ and ‘devil-may-care.’ He was the pioneer of words such as ‘abuzz,’ ‘flummox,’ and ‘whizz-bang.’ In the following century, the Irish writer James Joyce coined the term ‘quark,’ which has famously been borrowed by physicists to describe the elementary particles of the same name.

J.R.R. Tolkien was one of the most accomplished writers of fantasy to work in the twentieth century, but he also invented the occasional word. ‘Hobbit,’ has entered many of the world’s most respected dictionaries, and is used by people to describe anything diminutive. He is also credited for inventing the word ‘tween,’ which he used to describe juvenile hobbits.

A drawing J.R.R. Tolkien made of a hobbit

A drawing J.R.R. Tolkien made of a hobbit

Some of the most prolific inventors of words have been writers who raised nonsense to the level of a fine art. Lewis Carroll invented the word ‘chortle,’ to describe an abrupt sound halfway between a laugh and a snort, as well as the word ‘vorpal,’ to describe something sharp and deadly. All around the world, players of role-playing games are familiar with vorpal swords. Lewis Carroll even invented a word to describe inventing words. A ‘portmanteau word,’ is a word formed by merging the sounds and meanings of two different words. As well as ‘chortle,’ Lewis Carroll invented portmanteau words such as ‘frabjous,’ a cross between fabulous and joyous, and ‘mimsy,’ a cross between miserable and flimsy.

Children all around the English-speaking world love Dr. Seuss, and some of his wonderfully quirky words have made their way into the vocabularies of adults, and even some respectable dictionaries. If you’ve ever called someone a ‘nerd,’ you’ve used a word that Dr. Seuss coined to describe a strange creature from the land of Ka-Troo. He is also the inventor of the word ‘grinch,’ which is a popular reproach at all times of the year, not just during Christmas.

Words that Shakespeare invented

Dr. Seuss’ depiction of a nerd

The most prolific inventor of all, however, has to be William Shakespeare. This legendary English playwright coined words with reckless abandon, scattering his inventions throughout his plays as though he were desperately trying to double the size of the English lexicon. Shakespeare is sometimes credited for inventing over 1,700 English words, including such familiar words as ‘dawn,’ ‘generous,’ ‘lonely,’ ‘champion,’ ‘gloomy,’ ‘bandit,’ ‘elbow,’ ‘luggage’ and ‘torture.’ He also coined countless compound words, including ‘eyeball,’ ‘moonbeam,’ birthplace,’ and ‘bloodstained.’ Sometimes he would make new words by adding ‘un,’ or ‘dis,’ to an existing word, as in the case of ‘undress,’ and ‘discontent.’ At other times he would make a noun into an adjective, such as ‘drugged’ or ‘flawed,’ or an adjective into a noun, such as ‘savagery.’ English has been enriched by the inventions of countless authors, but Shakespeare has left his mark on the language more than any of them.