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English Language Lesson:  Invented Words

by Mike Davies

In the brief moments of calm in the Unique School of English office, we like to invent new words.  As we are a multilingual bunch, this could extend to languages other than English.  Our new words tend to sound too parochial, too weird or too contrived.  We are still working on it though and one of the managers is considering setting up a special committee just for the purpose of inventing a completely new word that will be used across the world.  Until that special moment comes, we have to look at some of the invented words of our forefathers.  Authors, who are probably as wise as English as a Foreign Language tutors in their knowledge of vocabulary, have a great reputation for this.  In our latest article, we look at the etymology behind some of the great words of the English language (and some other languages too).

 

Cojones

This word is used both in the Spanish language and in English, and was invented by Hemingway.  It's literal meaning is testicles, but it is more likely used to describe someone with courage and fortitude.  

 

"Fathers who look after their children have more cojones."

Miriam Clegg, Spanish wife of the former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

 

"Butterfingers"

This is used when talking about a clumsy person (somebody who tends to drop things quite easily) and was first spotted in a Charles Dickens Novel called "The Pickwick Papers"

 

"That goalkeeper is such a butterfingers."

Used when a goalkeeper keeps letting balls into his goal.

 

Shotgun Wedding

A shotgun wedding occurs when a man is forced to marry a woman because of the bride's pregnancy.  The term was first coined by Sinclair Lewis in his book Elmer Gantry, which was published in 1927.

 

"He was forced into a shotgun wedding when his girlfriend told him that she was expecting twins."

 

Workaholic

A workaholic is somebody who works all the time and can be said to be addicted to work.  Although chocoholic and cakeaholic were already in existence back then, the book "Confessions of a Workaholic" meant that the suffix -aholic became part of the lexicon.  

 

"He is in the office until 10pm every night.  He is a complete workaholic."

 

 

These words and more can be found in the new book "Authorisms" by Paul Dickson, published by Bloomsbury.

 

For more work on English and Spanish vocabulary, contact Unique Languages by telephone:  020 3566 0145, e-mail or by filling in the form on this page.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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