Words Wrought by Writers

Monday, May 19, 2014

Lexicographer Paul Dickson talks about the words coined by authors throughout the ages, and presents stories behind them. His book Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers includes words invented or popularized by William Shakespeare—like bedazzled, hurry, critical, and anchovy—which are part of our standard vocabulary today. Other writers include Sir Walter Scott, John Milton (earthshaking, lovelorn, by hook or crook, and all Hell broke loose), William Chaucer, Jane Austen, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and others.


Paul Dickson

Comments [6]

janos from NYC

Abner Doubleday did not invent basement, Alexander Cartwright did.

May. 21 2014 12:44 PM
Amy from Manhattan

But how many of Lewis Carroll's invented words have actually entered the English language? The only one I can think of offhand is "chortle." Oh, of course--"snark"! But is that it? And hadn't "portmanteau" itself already come into English, & his contribution was to apply the idea to words?

May. 19 2014 01:26 PM
Amy from Manhattan

What about Dr. Seuss? I think "grinch" has entered common usage; are there any more?

May. 19 2014 01:22 PM

What is the word that Jeffrey Eugenides used in his novel "Middlesex" to describe the feeling of pleasure and euphoria felt by first time lovers? I can't remember the term - but was that one a made-up word?

May. 19 2014 01:14 PM
Amy from Manhattan

So many expressions that Shakespeare introduced have become household words that my favorite has to be "household words" itself (from the St. Crispin's Day speech in Henry V)!

May. 19 2014 12:33 PM
JT from NYC

Chaucer coined "twitter," "caterwaul," "insolent," and "dotard," to name but just a very few choice examples, yes?

May. 19 2014 12:08 PM

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