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Added by tartan_skirt

on 18 Mar 2009 11:53

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When Literature Creates Language

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People who added this item 77  Average listal rating (45 ratings) 8.8  IMDB Rating
1. 1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
Big Brother n. informal a person or organisation exercising total control over people's lives.
-ORIGIN 1950s: from the name of the head of state in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).

doublethink n. the acceptance of conflicting opinions or beliefs at the same time.
-ORIGIN 1949: coined by George Orwell in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

newspeak n. ambiguous euphemistic language used chiefly in political propaganda.
-ORIGIN 1949: an artificial official language in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
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People who added this item 9  Average listal rating (3 ratings) 6.3  IMDB Rating
2. Babbitt (Signet Classics) - Sinclair Lewis
Babbitt n. dated, chiefly N. Amer. a materialistic, complacent, and conformist businessman.
-DERIVATIVES Babbittry n.
-ORIGIN 1922: from George Babbitt, the protagonist of the novel Babbit by Sinclair Lewis.

People who added this item 2  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
3. Pick of "Punch" - David [ed.] Thomas
brunch n. a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch.

(Featured in Punch on August 1st, 1896. Editor Guy Beringer is credited with the creation of the word.)

People who added this item 156  Average listal rating (62 ratings) 8.1  IMDB Rating
4. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
catch-22 n. a difficult situation from which there is no escape because it involves mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.
-ORIGIN title of a novel by Joseph Heller (1961).

People who added this item 311  Average listal rating (183 ratings) 8.3  IMDB Rating
5. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
chortle v. laugh in a gleeful way. n. a gleeful laugh.
-ORIGIN 1871: coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass; prob a blend of CHUCKLE and SNORT

frabjous adj. humorous delightful; joyous.
-DERIVATIVES frabjously adv.
-ORIGIN 1871: coined by Lewis Carroll, apparently to suggest fair and joyous.

galumph v. informal move in a clumsy, ponderous, or noisy manner.
-DERIVATIVES galumphing adj.
-ORIGIN 1871 (in the sense 'prance in triumph'): coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking Glass; perhaps a blend of GALLOP and TRIUMPH.

jabberwocky n. (pl. jabberwokies) invented or meaningless language.
-ORIGIN early 20th cent.: from the title of a nonsense poem in Lewis Caroll's Through the Looking Glass (1871).

mimsy adj. rather feeble and prim or over-restrained.
-ORIGIN 1871: nonsense word coined by Lewis Carroll; a blend of MISERABLE and FLIMSY.

People who added this item 2  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
6. Raising the Wind: a Farce in Two Acts: As Pe... - James Kenney
diddle v. informal 1 to cheat or swindle. 2 N. Amer. waste time. 3 vulgar, slang, chiefly N. Amer. have sex with.
-DERIVATIVES Diddler n.
-ORIGIN C19: prob. from the name of Jeremy Diddler, a character in the farce Raising the Wind (1803) who constantly borrowed small sums of money.

People who added this item 10  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
7. Don Juan - Lord George Gordon Byron
Don Juan n. a seducer of women.
-ORIGIN C19: from the name of a legendary Spanish nobleman and libertine.

People who added this item 12  Average listal rating (7 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
8. Frankenstein (Wordsworth Classics): Or, the ... - Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Frankenstein (also Frankenstein's monster) n. a thing that becomes terrifying or destructive to its maker.
-ORIGIN from the title of a novel (1818) by Mary Shelley, whose eponymous main character creates a manlike monster which eventually destroys him.
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People who added this item 12  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 9.5  IMDB Rating
9. The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh - A. A. Milne
Eeyorish (also Eeoreish) adj. pessimistic or gloomy.
-ORIGIN from Eeyore, a gloomy donkey in A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh.

Tiggerish adj. Brit very lively, energetic, and cheerful.
-ORIGIN from Tigger, a tiger in A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, characterized by his vitality.

People who added this item 12  Average listal rating (5 ratings) 8.6  IMDB Rating
10. Gargantua and Pantagruel - François Rabelais
gargantuan adj. extremely large.
-ORIGIN C16: from Gargantua, a voracious giant in Rabelais' book of the same name, + an.

People who added this item 54  Average listal rating (24 ratings) 7.7  IMDB Rating
11. Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Cultu... - Douglas Coupland
Generation X n. the generation born between the mid 1960s and the mid 1970s, perceived as being disaffected and directionless.
-DERIVATIVES Generation Xer
-ORIGIN from the novel of the same name (1991) by Douglas Coupland.
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People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
12. Old John: And Other Poems - Thomas E. Brown
Godwottery n. Brit. humorous affectedly archaic or elaborate speech or writing.
-ORIGIN 1930s: from the line 'A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!', in T. E. Brown's poem My Garden (1876).

People who added this item 83  Average listal rating (56 ratings) 8.6  IMDB Rating
13. How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (Classic Seu... - Dr. Seuss
Grinch n. N. Amer. informal a spoilsport or killjoy.
-ORIGIN 1970s: a character in the children's story How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Suess.

People who added this item 105  Average listal rating (57 ratings) 7.9  IMDB Rating
14. Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert A. Heinlein
grok v. (groks, grokking, grokked) US informal understand intuuitively.
-ORIGIN 1960s: invented word.

(check required)

People who added this item 432  Average listal rating (250 ratings) 8.1  IMDB Rating
15. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
hobbit n. a member of an imaginary race similar to humans, of small size and with hairy feet, in stories by J. R. R. Tolkien.
-ORIGIN 1937: invented by Tolkien in his book The Hobbit, and said by him to mean 'hole-dweller'.
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People who added this item 3  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
16. The Adventures & Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Holmesian adj. relating to or reminiscent of the expert detective Sherlock Holmes, a character in stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
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People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
17. Humpty Dumpty and Other Nursery Rhymes - Lucy Cousins
humpty-dumpty n. (pl. humpty-dumpties) informal 1 short fat person 2 a person or thing that once overthrown cannot be restored.
-ORIGIN C18: from the egg-like nursery-rhyme character Humpty-Dumpty, who fell off a wall and cnould not be put together again.

People who added this item 59  Average listal rating (36 ratings) 7.3  IMDB Rating
18. The Holy Bible: King James Version - Anonymous
Jezebel n. a shameless or immoral woman.
-ORIGIN C16: Jezebel, wife of Ahab in the Bible.

People who added this item 23  Average listal rating (6 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
19. Robinson Crusoe (Penguin Classics) - Daniel Defoe
man Friday n. a male helper or follower.
-ORIGIN from Friday, the name of a character in Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe (1719), whom Crusoe often refers to as 'my man Friday'.

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
20. The best of H.T. Webster: a memorial collect... - Harold Tucker Webster
Milquetoast n. chiefly N. Amer. a person who is timid or submissive.
-ORIGIN 1930s: from the name of a cartoon character, Caspar Milquetoast, created by H. T. Webster in 1924.

People who added this item 7  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
21. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone - J K Rowling
muggle n. a person without magical powers
(new meaning: 1996; popularized by J. K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone. There are, however, two preceding meanings already in the dictionary.)

People who added this item 28  Average listal rating (13 ratings) 7.7  IMDB Rating
22. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, Book 1) - L. Frank Baum
Land of Oz n. an unreal or magical place.
-ORIGIN a mythical and magical place, first introduced in the children's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) by L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). The legend that Baum came up with the name when he saw a filing cabinet drawer labeled O-Z (below the drawers A-G and H-N) is disputed.

People who added this item 20  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
23. Gulliver's Travels (Wordsworth Classics) - Jonathan Swift
lilliputian adj. trivial or very small. n. a Lilliputian person or thing.
-ORIGIN C18: from the imaginary country of Lilliput in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), inhabited by 6-inch high people, +ian

People who added this item 98  Average listal rating (43 ratings) 8.3  IMDB Rating
24. Lolita (Penguin Classics) - Vladimir Nabokov
Lolita n. a sexually precocious young girl.
-ORIGIN from the eponymous character in the novel Lolita (1958) by Vladimir Nabokov.
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People who added this item 115  Average listal rating (64 ratings) 8.3  IMDB Rating
25. Peter Pan - J. M. Barrie
Peter Pan n. a person who retains youthful features, or who is immature.
-ORIGIN the hero of J. M. Barrie's play of the same name (1904).

Wendy house n. Brit. a toy house large enough for children to play in.
-ORIGIN named after the house built around Wendy in J. M. Barry's play Peter Pan.

People who added this item 9  Average listal rating (4 ratings) 5.8  IMDB Rating
26. The Pickwick Papers (Wordsworth Classics) - Charles Dickens
Pickwickian adj. of or like Mr Pickwick in Dickens's Pickick Papers, especially in being jovial, plump, or generous. (of words) misunderstood or misused, especially to avoid offence.

People who added this item 14  Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.2  IMDB Rating
27. Pollyanna (Wordsworth Children's Classics) - Eleanor H. Porter
Pollyanna n. an excessively cheerful or optimistic person.
-DERIVATIVES Pollyannaish adj. Pollyannaism n.
-ORIGIN the name of the optimistic heroine created by the American author Eleanor H. Porter (1868-1920).

People who added this item 2  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6  IMDB Rating
28. The Mikado (Dover Thrift) - W.S. Gilbert
pooh-bah n. a pompous person having much influence or holding many offices simultaneously.
-ORIGIN from the name of a character in W.S. Gilbert's The Mikado (1885).

People who added this item 8  Average listal rating (2 ratings) 9.5  IMDB Rating
29. Finnegans Wake - James Joyce
quark n. Physics any of a group of subatomic particles carrying a fractional electric charge, postulated as building blocks of the hadrons.
-ORIGIN 1960s: invented by the American physicist Murray Gell-Mann and assoc. with the line 'Three quarks for Muster Mark' in Joyce's Finnegans Wake (1939).

People who added this item 119  Average listal rating (53 ratings) 7.7  IMDB Rating
30. Don Quixote - Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
quixotic adj. impractically idealistic or fanciful.
-DERIVATIVES quixotically adv. quixotism n. quixotry n.
-ORIGIN C18: from the name of Don Quixote, the hero of a chivalric romance by the Spanish writer Cervantes (1547-1616), +ic.

People who added this item 2  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
31. R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) (Penguin ... - Karel Capek
robot n. a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer.
-DERIVATIVES robotization or robotisation n. robotize or robotise v.
-ORIGIN from Czech, from robota 'forced labour'; the term was coined in K. Čapek's play R. U. R. 'Rossum's Universal Robots' (1920).

People who added this item 444  Average listal rating (295 ratings) 7.6  IMDB Rating
32. Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare
Romeo n. 1 (pl. Romeos) an attractive, passionate male seducer or lover. 2 a code word representing the letter R, used in radio communication.
-ORIGIN the hero of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet.

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
33. The Owl And The Pussycat - Ian Beck
runcible spoon n. a fork curved like a spoon, with three broad prongs, one of which has a sharpened outer edge for cutting.
-ORIGIN C19: used by Edward Lear, perh. suggested by later C16 rouncival, denoting a learge variety of pea.

People who added this item 118  Average listal rating (76 ratings) 7.8  IMDB Rating
34. A Christmas Carol (Bantam Classic) - Charles Dickens
Scrooge n. a person who is mean with money.
-ORIGIN from the name of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miser in Charles Dicken's novel A Christmas Carol.

People who added this item 17  Average listal rating (10 ratings) 7.4  IMDB Rating
35. Lost Horizon - James Hilton
Shangri-La n. an imaginary earthly paradise.
-ORIGIN the name of a Tibetan utopia in James Hilton's Lost Horizon (1933), from Shangri (an invented name) + Tibetan la ' mountain pass'.

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
36. Trilby (Oxford World's Classics) - George Du Maurier
Svengali n. a person who exercises a controlling influence on another, especially for a sinister purpose.
-ORIGIN Svengali, a musician in George du Maurier's novel Trilby (1894) who controls Trilby's stage singing hypnotically.

People who added this item 1  Average listal rating (1 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
37. The Private Journal and Literary Remains of ... - John Byrom
Tweedledum and Tweedledee n. a pair of people or things that are virtually indistinguishable.
-ORIGIN orig. names applied to Bononcini and Handel, in a 1725 satire by John Byrom; later used for two identical characters in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass (1871).

People who added this item 28  Average listal rating (13 ratings) 6.8  IMDB Rating
38. Utopia (Penguin Classics) - Sir Thomas More
Utopia n. an imagined perfect place or state of things.
-ORIGIN the title of a book (1516) by Sir Thomas More, based on Gk ou 'not' + topos 'place'.

People who added this item 6  Average listal rating (3 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
39. Hamlet (New Longman Literature 14-18) - Julia Markus,Dr Paul Jordan,Roy Blatchford,William Shakespeare
witching hour n. midnight, regarded as the time when witches are supposedly active.
-ORIGIN with allusion to the witching time of night from Shakespeare's Hamlet (III. ii. 377).
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People who added this item 7  Average listal rating (3 ratings) 8.3  IMDB Rating
40. Kubla Khan - Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Xanadu n. (pl. Xanadus) an imaginary wonderful place.
-ORIGIN alt. of Shang-tu, an ancient city in SE Mongolia, as portrayed in Coleridge's poem Kubla Khan (1816).


 

Sometimes literature has the power to form new words, or feature characters who so strongly represent their features that a word is coined in their honour. Some neologisms make it, others don't. Here are some of the words that made in into everyday language prominently enough to have their own dictionary entry.

Rules: It's got to be in the OED listed as originally coming from the work of literature. I may make some allowances to this in some cases though. I'm currently working from a Concise OED 11th edition revised, so it is a few years old and may not have quite every example possible.

Work in Progress

See Also:

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Comments

Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at May 25 15:40
Gulliver's travels also gave us Laputan for the dictionary.
Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at May 25 18:00
in same vein as Don Juan, Casanova is also a term used for seducer of women, and I believe its based on a novel.
Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at May 25 18:04
Great list, though I would object to Peter Pan and Humpty Dumpty. I've never heard it being used in modern language. Or it maybe it did enter the english language for a period of time, but it certainly isn't in use today, to the best of my knowledge.
Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at May 26 12:07
About Casanova, a term synonymous with the art of seduction, it's all based on Casanova's own part autobiography, part memoir, 'Histoire de ma Vie': http://www.listal.com/search/books/1/?query=histoire+de+ma+vie
Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at May 26 16:43
Prelude, Casanova would maybe be more appropriate for my Authors in the Dictionary list, but not here. Thanks for the suggestion though. :) Plus, with phrases such as Peter Pan and Humpty Dumpty it completely depends on geographical region, medium and topic. I've heard them and they are in the dictionary, but others may come across them less often or not at all.
Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at May 26 16:46
GA: I can't find Laputan in my current dictionary, though this could just mean it has dropped out of current usage.
Posted: 5 years, 5 months ago at Jun 18 23:19
Ok, how about 'Behemoth'? It's from that bible book about God and stuff. Off the top of my head, babel, leviathan and sodomy probably originate from it too. I'm not sure if you're counting the bible though!
Posted: 4 years, 9 months ago at Feb 27 12:33
Sherlockian is also a word inspired by the great detective!
Posted: 4 years, 6 months ago at May 11 6:41
the word "chortled" also came from the poem "The Jabberwocky." I use that word all the time when I write. Very nice list. Love it!
Posted: 4 years, 6 months ago at May 11 7:38
Muggle is a word now. Harry Potter!
Posted: 4 years, 6 months ago at May 19 21:39
Updated a new things: added "Land of Oz" and "Shangri-La", also "muggle", though I have noted that there are two meanings that precede the Harry Potter one. Added "chortle" too, thanks for reminding me about that, sleepless, I'm surprised I forgot to add it! :P
Posted: 4 years, 6 months ago at May 24 18:22
AMAZING idea. I simply love it!
Posted: 4 years, 5 months ago at May 28 19:24
Shakespeare apparently invented "assassination".
Posted: 4 years ago at Nov 14 14:44
Added Eeyorish.
Posted: 3 years, 6 months ago at May 11 18:01
Added frabjous and galumph.
Posted: 3 years, 6 months ago at May 14 22:52
1984 is just awesome. Cool list btw.
Avatar
Posted: 3 years, 6 months ago at May 15 2:51
great and smart list. really really good
Posted: 3 years, 6 months ago at May 15 6:45
"The Island That Wasn't There"
Posted: 3 years, 6 months ago at May 16 16:14
No problem, tartan. Glad this list is getting some recognition!
Posted: 3 years, 4 months ago at Jul 23 13:32
Fabulous! I didn't know some of these, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Posted: 2 years, 9 months ago at Feb 16 10:30
all I want to say well done,this is amazing group of novels
Posted: 2 years, 2 months ago at Sep 7 23:52
Arguably my favorite list on listal. I hope to one day be on it. Good stuff!
Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Dec 2 15:59
Cool list!
Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Dec 2 16:47
How about 'nerd'. It was coined from Dr. Seuss' 1950 children's book "If I Ran The Zoo". ( ”And then, just to show them, I’ll sail to Ka-Troo/And Bring Back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Proo/A Nerkle a Nerd and a Seersucker, too!”)

Shakespeare had a hand in inventing a number of words that are in use today. 'Bump', first used in Romeo and Juliet, 'swagger', first used in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 'obscene', first used in Love’s Labor’s Lost, and 'luggage', first used in King Henry IV, Part I.

'Yahoo' originated in Gulliver's Travels (1726) by Johnathan Swift. It was used as the name of a neanderthal race of people.
Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Dec 3 15:00
Fascinating list :)
Avatar
Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Dec 4 0:53
What an inspired list!

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