Words are a big part of my business, but I’m always amazed at when certain words came into use. Since I primarily write historical fiction, I don’t want to have my characters saying a word that hasn’t even been invented. To help me with this I use a variety of dictionaries.
Merriam Webster is a favorite because it gives years of first use. It’s really fascinating to explore.
For instance did you know that “sabotage” wasn’t in use until around 1910?
And if you called someone a “nerd” prior to 1951, you were probably time travelling.
It’s thought that “nerd” came from a character in the Dr. Seuss book IF I RAN THE ZOO, circa 1950.
Words like “input” and “cholesterol” sound more modern, but have actually been around since 1888 and 1894 respectively.
Thankfully “chocolate” has been in use since 1604. But you couldn’t “rip off” things until 1967.
You could “strong-arm” someone in 1897, but you couldn’t “discombobulate” anything until 1916.
You could make a “goof” in 1915, but you wouldn’t call someone a “goofball” until 1950.
Amazingly enough a person could “compute” in 1616 and be “animated” in 1534, but you couldn’t “pinpoint” until 1849.
There were “rattletraps” as early as 1822, but not a single “fuselage” until 1909.
Words are so much fun and as an author I cherish learning new ones. I encourage you to have fun with words today and if you find something particularly surprising – share it here.
God Bless You!