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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 92 Average listal rating (59 ratings) 9.1 IMDB Rating 0
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 (2 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
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 (0 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0
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 158 Average listal rating (71 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
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 335 Average listal rating (206 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
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.
diddle v. informal 1 to cheat or swindle. 2 N. Amer. waste time. 3 vulgar, slang, chiefly N. Amer. have sex with.
-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 8 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
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.
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 0
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 17 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 8.9 IMDB Rating 0
Gargantua and Pantagruel - François Rabelais
gargantuan adj. extremely large.
-ORIGIN C16: from Gargantua, a voracious giant in Rabelais' book of the same name, + an.
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 (0 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
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 97 Average listal rating (68 ratings) 8.7 IMDB Rating 0
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.
grok v. (groks, grokking, grokked) US informal understand intuuitively.
-ORIGIN 1960s: invented word.

(check required)
People who added this item 470 Average listal rating (281 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 0
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 4 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0
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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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 70 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Jezebel n. a shameless or immoral woman.
-ORIGIN C16: Jezebel, wife of Ahab in the Bible.
People who added this item 25 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
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'.
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.
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 29 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
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 28 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
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 109 Average listal rating (54 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
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 117 Average listal rating (68 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
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 10 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 0
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 0
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 0
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 3 Average listal rating (0 ratings) 0 IMDB Rating 0
The Diary of a Nobody - Weedon Grossmith,George Grossmith
Pooterish adj. self-important and mundane or narrow-minded.
-ORIGIN 1960s: from the name of Charles Pooter the central character of Diary of a Nobody (1892) by George and Weedon Grossmith.
People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 9.5 IMDB Rating 0
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 142 Average listal rating (70 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
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.
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 411 Average listal rating (348 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 0
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 (0 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
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 143 Average listal rating (93 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
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 16 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 0
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 (0 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0
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.
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 35 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 0
Utopia - 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 0
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 0
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:

Authors in the Dictionary
Language from Television (under construction)

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