The War That Gave Us 'Cooties'

Email a Friend
Salvation Army making Donuts - postcard depicting Salvation Army making donuts under bombardment of German guns while in front line in France during WWI, circa 1914-1918.

World War I began 100 years ago, and our word maven, Patricia T. O’Conner, looks at the words that came out of that war—like blimp, doughboy, cooties. She’ll also answer questions about language and grammar. An updated and expanded third edition of O’Conner’s book, Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain English, is available in paperback, as is  Origins of the Specious, written with Stewart Kellerman.

If you have a question about language and grammar, leave a comment or call us at 212-433-9692!

O'Conner and Leonard discussed a number of words and phrases that originated—or became popular—during WWI, including:

taxiing (as in a plane on a runway)
trench coat
zero hour
cushy (to mean comfortable or easy)
shell shock
hush hush
pushing up daisies
in a funk