Words through time

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  • 03/05/2017

If you read my story, you’ll know that I started my blog after a life changing accident that confined me to bed for a year.  With free time and my laptop I started looking up the answers to some of the off the wall questions that crossed my mind.

I’ve always liked to know where things, words, phrases and stuff like come from, so I went looking and I found some unexpected stuff that I’m now sharing with you.

The following content is not mine, it is a compilation of different websites and authors all of which are listed in this article. For space purposes I have only listed the words I found most interesting and/or unexpected.

Words Coined in the  19th Century (

Bicentennial: Humorist Mark Twain was the first writer to attach the prefix bi-, meaning “two,” to centennial, a recently coined word referring to a 100-year anniversary.

Bisexual: Coleridge came up with the term bisexual, but in the context of androgyny, not attraction to both men and women.

Butterfingers: Dickens was also responsible for this evocative reference to clumsiness, though he hyphenated it.

Coed: Novelist Louisa May Alcott’s truncation of coeducational originally referred, like the word on which it was based, to an educational system accommodating both boys and girls, but by extension it also came to refer to young female students.

Doormat: Dickens was the first person to use the word doormat (hyphenated) to allude to someone figuratively being walked all over.

Feminist: Novelist Alexandre Dumas (fils) used féministe, the French form of this term, to refer to someone who asserts that women are due all the rights accorded to men.

Freelance: Author Sir Walter Scott employed this term (hyphenated) to describe a mercenary soldier, one whose lance (a long spear) was not wielded in the service of a single master, but (with its bearer) was hired out.

Pedestrian: William Wordsworth came up with the word meaning “one who travels on foot.”

Psychosomatic: Coleridge came up with this term to refer to imagined maladies.

Selfless: Coleridge coined this word meaning “unselfish.”

Soulmate: Coleridge came up with this term (hyphenated) to refer to someone with whom one has a profound emotional connection.

Words Coined in the 20th Century (

Beep: Scientist and novelist Arthur C. Clarke came up with this onomatopoeic word for a small, high-pitched signal.

Catch-22: Novelist Joseph Heller named his best-known novel after his term for the concept of a lose-lose predicament.

Cyberspace: Novelist William Gibson combined the extant prefix cyber with space to describe an online environment.

Debunk: Novelist William E. Woodward created this word to describe the concept of disproving fraudulent claims.

Litterbug: Writer Alice Rush McKeon came up with this term for people who carelessly drop litter.

Meme: Scientist Richard Dawkins coined this term for behaviors, ideas, or styles passed between people; it is now widely associated with images from popular culture that express a concept.

Nerd: Writer Dr. Seuss gave no definition for this nonsense word he coined and did not associate it with any of his illustrations, but it came to refer to a socially inept person, especially one with advanced academic or intellectual skills but poor social skills.

Piehole: Novelist Stephen King introduced this slang for the mouth, with the connotation that someone associated with the word (as when told, “Shut your piehole”) should use one’s mouth only for eating because the thoughts the person voices with it are not worthwhile for anyone to hear.

Robot: The brother of Czech writer Karel Čapek suggested that he use robota, Czech for “forced labor,” as a name for machines that resemble and perform tasks normally carried out by humans; it was translated into English as robot, and Isaac Asimov came up with the noun robotics to refer to the science behind such machines, as well as the adjective robotic.

Scaredy-cat: Satirist Dorothy Parker came up with this slang word for a timid person.

Whodunit: Book critic Donald Gordon described a mystery novel with this word.

Workaholic: Psychologist Wayne E. Oates coined this term on the model of alcoholic; although it was not the first -aholic coinage, its popularity inspired many similar constructions.

Words coined so far in the 21sth century (

Crowdfunding: The act of sourcing for funds through the internet for a convincing project. It can also be seen as the practice of soliciting financial contributions from a large number of people via the internet.

Selfie:  Word used to describe an image of a person taken by oneself using a digital camera.

: Made popular by Social Media, it means Oh My God

Emoji:  Images created with alphabet, letters, and numbers to describe emotions, feelings, and the likes.

Google: An internet search engine, by extension, means using the Google search engine to obtain information about something.

Words coined so far in the 21sth century (

Bitcoin: Is a cryptocurrency and a payment system, invented by an unidentified programmer, or group of programmers, under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto

BlackFriday: Is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November). Since 1952, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S., and most major retailers open very early (and more recently during overnight hours) and offer promotional sales.

Bullycide: Bullying and Suicide


  • Jeenifer Garfield

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject that at times.

    • Sabi

      Dear Jeenifer thank you so much for taking the time. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

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