The English language is ever-evolving, and in our current era of instant communication, Twitter, and text-message shorthand, it just might be evolving more quickly than ever. We’ve always been fascinated by the way words are invented and take on meaning, and the way an obscure reference can become ubiquitous in an extremely short period of time — particularly those obscure references that come from our favorite manipulators of language, books. In the interest of pursuing that idea, we decided to take a look at a few everyday words that originated in literature, from plays to poems to novels to children’s books. Click through to see our a few of our favorite literary neologisms, and if you feel the urge, add to our highly incomplete list with your own favorites.
The words chortle and galumphing were both coined by Lewis Carroll in his nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” from his 1872 sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass. Though chortle — which means a laugh somewhere between a chuckle and a snort — is more common, galumphing — that is to say, galloping triumphantly — was picked up by Rudyard Kipling and made it into the dictionary, so that’s good enough for us.