We’ve all heard of the phrase ‘wordsmith’ being used to describe authors, but did you know that some authors actually invented some of the words we use on a daily basis?
Take a look below at 10 words created by authors over the centuries; you may even get the odd surprise!
Author: George Bernard Shaw
Superman is the translation of the German word Übermensch. It was also used by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche who used the term as a concept of ‘an ideal superior man of the future who transcends conventional Christian morality to create and impose his own values’.
Shaw originally used the translation in 1903 in the title of the drama ‘Man and Superman’. But perhaps the most commonly associated usage of the word is linked to a flying man (similar to a superhero) which was coined in the 1930s by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster when naming their superhero character. The rest they say, is history.
Author: Edmund Spenser
It has been suggested that the word was first used in his poem ‘The Faerie Queen’ in 1596 where he describes the ‘blatant beast’.
It was also suggested that the word could be an alteration of the Scottish ‘blatand’ meaning bleating but the Oxford English Dictionary notes that this is probably far from the word Spenser used.
Author: John Dryden
The English poet was first noted to use the term in ‘The State of Innocence’, the musical stage adaptation of John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost.
Author: Karel Capek
Czech author Capek first used the word in a 1920 science fiction play ‘R.U.R’ (Rossum’s Universal Robots). In fact, it was his brother that first suggested the word based on the Latin word labor.
The word derives from the Czeh ‘robota’ meaning forced labour or drudgery.
Author: William Gibson
The word was apparently invented by Gibson in 1981 for a short science fiction story ‘Burning Chrome’ which was published in 1982.
However the word cyber has already been around for at least two decades.
Author: Gelett Burgess
First used in 1907 by humourist, Gelett Burgess. It was discovered on a comic book jacket embellished with a drawing of a young woman named ‘Miss Belinda Blurb’.
But the Oxford English Dictionary actually cities its first use in the 1914 edition of ‘Burgess Unabridged: A New Dictionary of Words You Have Always Needed’. In it, he describes a blurb as a ‘flamboyant advertisement or inspirational testimonial.’
Author: Lewis Carrol
First introduced in his children’s book ‘Through the looking glass’ in 1871. It was created as both a noun and a verb and means to laugh in a noisy or gleeful way.
Author: Horace Walpole
It was first used by Horace Walpole in a letter he wrote to Horace Mann in 1754. In the letter he explains that he first invented the word after seeing the title of the fairy tale ‘The Three Princes of Serendip’.
The word was rarely used in Walpole’s time but has since been popular in the 20th century.
Author: Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The word first appeared in a note in his autobiography ‘Biographia Literaria’ in 1817, where the poet defends his invention of the word.
Cloud Cuckoo land
Author: Henry Francis Cary
Perhaps more of a phrase than a word, it also derives from a translation, similarly to the invention of Superman but from Greece rather than Germany.
The ancient Greek playwright, Aristophanes used the word to name the city built by birds in his play ‘Birds’.
In 1824 Henry translated this into English as ‘cloud cuckoo land’ and was later developed in the late 19th century.