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Old 17 June 2014, 09:02 PM
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Default How authors from Dickens to Dr Seuss invented the words we use every day

Quote:
The English language didn't just spring from nowhere. So who introduced such gems as cojones, meme, nerd and butterfingers?
http://www.theguardian.com/books/201...ones-meme-nerd

Interesting (although some of it's well-known) but I'm posting because of this bit:

Quote:
Debunk

A word created by the novelist, biographer and former advertising copywriter William E Woodward for the process of exposing false claims. He used it in his 1923 novel Bunk, in which he also created the term debunker and debunking. Others would later debunk Woodward's biographies of George Washington and Ulysses S Grant, which attempted to debunk great figures of history but were generally dismissed as exercises in cynicism and little else.
(eta) Also, apparently Norman Mailer invented "factoid".
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Old 19 June 2014, 06:09 AM
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I take it 'pedestrian' was already in use as an adjective meaning 'lacking inspiration or excitement' before it became a noun meaning someone on foot? Pretty interesting, for whatever reason I always assumed it was the other way around, that the noun came first.
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Old 19 June 2014, 08:00 AM
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So it was - how bizarre. The figurative meaning of dull or prosaic dates from 1716, according to Chambers Dictionary of Etymology. Wordsworth was the first to record the literal meaning.

I was going to ask why you had presumed that from the list - is it because it specifically says "noun"?

It's a more interesting list than some of these though. I said that some of them were well-known (chortle, meme, robot etc. - perhaps debunk, round here), but I didn't know most of them.
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Old 19 June 2014, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by hoitoider View Post
I take it 'pedestrian' was already in use as an adjective meaning 'lacking inspiration or excitement' before it became a noun meaning someone on foot? Pretty interesting, for whatever reason I always assumed it was the other way around, that the noun came first.
But the word "ped" means "foot" in Latin, doesn't it? So I would have assumed that it would have something to do with feet...
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Old 19 June 2014, 01:48 PM
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The OED lists the prosaic meaning of "pedestrian" dating back to 1716, with the "person on foot" meaning dating back to 1722 (as a statue of a standing figure) and 1742 (a person going about on foot). The going around on foot thing is probably derived from the Latin pedester, but the prosaic thing is probably from the Greek pedzos.

There is an earlier English word, "pedestrial," that means "going or walking on foot," which the OED dates back to 1606. (This contrasts with "equestrial," meaning "going on horse.") I wonder if it was one of those things where they wanted a noun for that verb and it coincidentally matched up to the existing adjective "pedestrian." In true circular fashion, by 1941, "pedestrial" also meant dull/prosaic.

ETA: In other words, this article is wrong about that word.
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Old 19 June 2014, 01:54 PM
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All the terms in the teaser article were familiar to me. There was some care taken to acknowledge that many of these were not new words or new usages by the authors, but rather the first known uses in print, but I think this distinction was downplayed. The source for the first printed use of the term 'shotgun wedding' makes it clear that it was a well-known term for some time, and Sinclair Lewis was just acknowledging the practice and usage.

As for pedestrian, I wonder if the 'common' or 'dull' meaning did not in fact occur first, referring to something that as common and dull as feet. It may also be a matter of the dual vocabularies England had for so long, with the upper classes using largely French/Latin-based words, like beef, while the commoners used Germanic or Nordic origin words, like 'cow.' I would assume that before using the term 'pedestrian' for walkers, the common term would have been 'walker.' ETA - looks like Avril beat me with some actual research.
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Old 19 June 2014, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by Avril View Post
ETA: In other words, this article is wrong about that word.
So's the Chamber's Dictionary of Etymology - it says 1791 for the "walker" meaning too. It doesn't mention Wordsworth though.
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Old 19 June 2014, 03:48 PM
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For the curious, here are the first entries the OED has on those words:

Quote:
1. Of writing: prosaic, dull; uninspired, undistinguished. Also, of people and things: commonplace, ordinary.

1716 M. Davies Athenć Britannicć II. 139 The rest moulded upon Lucretius's Splay-footed numbers, with some pedestrian spoilings [printed spoulings] out of Horace's Epistles.

...

2.

a. Of a statue: representing a person on foot (as distinct from equestrian). Obs.

1722 E. Curll Hist. Acct. Life & Writings John Toland 31 The Pedestrian Statue for his Majesty resembles him very much.

...

b. On foot, going or walking on foot; performed on foot; of or relating to walking.

1742 H. Fielding Joseph Andrews (ed. 2) II. iii. xi. 161, I would wage a Shilling, that the Pedestrian out-stripped the Equestrian Travellers.

...

c. humorous. Relating to or performed by the feet; esp. involving the act of kicking. Obs.

1751 T. Smollett Peregrine Pickle II. lxv. 217 Defying him to come forth, that it might appear which of them was best skilled in that pedestrian exercise which he immediately began to practise against the door.
For the noun version of this (rather than the adjective), the OED gives this:

Quote:
a. A person who goes or travels on foot, esp. as opposed to one who travels in a vehicle; a walker; one who walks as a physical exercise or in athletic competition.

?1770 Adventures of Actor i. 3 He determined on returning to London; and accordingly set out in the character of a Pedestrian, his finances not allowing any other mode of travelling. ...
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  #9  
Old 19 June 2014, 08:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post

As for pedestrian, I wonder if the 'common' or 'dull' meaning did not in fact occur first, referring to something that as common and dull as feet.
Also, commoners walked, while aristocrats went on horseback.
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