As per the Oxford English Dictionary, there are a total of 1, 71,146 words currently in use in the English language; all having have different origins and sources. Moreover, many have fascinating stories behind their discovery and usage. Even more interestingly, though we use such words quite frequently, we aren’t aware that they have roots in literature. Here is a look at some words you never knew came from literature.
The word was first used by Elizabethan poet Edmund Spenser in his epic poem “The Faerie Queene” in 1590. Originally it referred to a thousand-tongued beast. Since then it has come to mean something that is starkly obvious and in-your-face.
This word originated in Lewis Carroll’s poem “Jabberwocky,” which was included in the 1871 book ‘Through the Looking-Glass’. The word is a blend of “chuckle” and “snort,” describing the noise made by somebody who manages to laugh while utilizing their nose in the process.
This word came from John Milton’s great epic poem Paradise Lost (1667). Meaning literally “all demons,” Pandemonium was Satan’s capital city in Milton’s poem. Since then, the word has come to mean any disordered confusion.
It comes from a 1950 book by Dr Seuss, ‘If I Ran the Zoo’. In the poem, a nerd is one of the imaginary animals the narrator claims he will collect for his zoo. As a rough translation for “geek,” the word entered popular use by the end of the 1950s.
This word is from Homer’s ‘The Odyssey’, an epic poem which recounts the adventures of Odysseus. In Odysseus’ absence, the character of Mentor advised Telemachus, Odysseus’ son. Hence, the modern connotation of the word “mentor” as “adviser.”
This word has its origin in a 1530 poem ‘Girolamo Fracastoro’ written by Syphilis Sive de Morbo Gallico, an Italian physician and poet. The poem recounts how Syphilus, a shepherd boy, is afflicted with the disease, which was commonly known at the time as “the French disease”.
Coined by Sir Thomas More, this word was first used as the name for More’s fictional island in his 1516 book, ‘Utopia’. In this book, which More wrote in Latin, he outlines the ideal society. The word “utopia” has since become used to describe an ideal world.
Originally, the word was the name for a race of brutish humans in Jonathan Swift’s fantasy satire ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ (1726). From there, it went on to refer to any hooligan or noisy, loutish individual. Today, it is popularly known as a homepage, mailing service, and search engine.