10 Words You Didn’t Know Were Invented by Writers

#1 – Muggle: a person who possesses no magical powers

muggle

Well… you probably did know that this was created by J.k. Rowling in her Harry Potter books, but did you know that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2009?

#2: Chortle: combination of chuckle and snort

looking glassThe word was coined by Lewis Carroll in “Through the Looking Glass.” In fact Carroll invented many words in his stories, most of them combinations of pre-existing words, such as frumious (“fuming” and “furious”), mimsy (“miserable” and “flimsy”), frabjous(“fabulous” and “joyous”), and slithy (“slimy” and “lithe”).

#3: Banana Republic: A politically unstable, undemocratic and tropical nation whose economy is largely dependent on the export of a single limited-resource product.

bananaThe term was first used by William Sidney Porter in “Cabbages and Kings.”

#4: Bedazzled: To be irresistibly enchanted, dazed or pleased.

bedazzle

Shakespeare coined this term in his popular play “The Taming of the Shrew.”  Katharina says: “Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes, that have been so bedazzled with the sun that everything I look on seemeth green.”  This is a long ways off from what it currently means…

#5: Pie Hole – slang term for mouth

pie hole

Though this word was likely already common slang at the time, Stephen King is credited with the first written account of the word.  It was found in his 1983 novel, “Christine.”

#6: Malapropism – the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect.

malapropism

The word originated from the character Mrs. Malaprop, from Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 play “The Rivals.”  Mrs. Malaprop could be read exclaiming “He’s the very pineapple of success!” and “She’s as headstrong as an allegory on the banks of the Nile!

#7: Boredom: the state of feeling bored

boredom

Charles Dickens is credited with inventing the word boredom in his classic 1853 novel “Bleak House.”

#8: Yahoo – a rude, noisy, or violent person.

yahoo

The term originated as the name of a race of people in Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel “Gulliver’s Travels.”

#9: Catch-22 – a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

catch22

Catch-22 was popularized after Joseph Heller made it the title of his book based on a real military regulation called Catch-18.  The regulation says that the only way to be excused from flying on a suicide mission is to be declared insane.  However, asking to be excused because of insanity is proof of a rational mind and means you cannot be excused.

#10: Nerd – a foolish or contemptible person who lacks social skills or is boringly studious.

nerd

While the actual invention of the word nerd is still debated, Dr. Seuss is responsible for the first written use of the word in his poem “If I Ran the Zoo.”

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