'Swagger' and Other Everyday Words Invented by Famous Authors

The stories behind modern linguistic touchstones like 'nerd,' 'cyberspace,' and more

[optional image description]
Wikimedia Commons

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. Look below to see our a few of our favorite literary neologisms.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

Presented by

Emily Temple is an editor at Flavorpill.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In