Posted by: Jack Henry | February 6, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Words Coined by Charles Dickens

Good morning. Are you ready for some information about word creation this morning? I’m not waiting for you to say no.

I think we’re all aware that while writing his plays and sonnets, William Shakespeare was responsible for creating many new English words. Well, he’s not the only writer to do so. Writers are notorious for creating words to fill a gap, to help flesh out their characters and dialog, or meet the needs of their rhyme or meter.

Here are a few words and phrases that were coined by another famous writer, novelist Charles Dickens. We don’t use all of them anymore, but more than half of them are still used frequently because they evoke such strong imagery. Not bad, Mr. Dickens!

The list is not complete and it is compiled from two sources: and

· Abuzz: Characterizing excessive gossip or activity

· Butterfingers: Refers to clumsiness (originally hyphenated)

· Creeps (the): A feeling of fear or revulsion

· Devil-may-care: Meaning reckless, careless, or jovial and rakish in manner

· Doormat: Alludes to someone figuratively being walked all over

· Flummox: Alludes to being bewildered or perplexed

· Gonoph: Slang for a pickpocket or thief

· Gorm: A vulgar substitute for (God) damn

· Lummy: Slang for “knowing; cute” or “first-rate”

· Red tapeworm: A person who adheres excessively to official rules and formalities [dbb – This one is new to me, and I know it’s disgusting, but it is clever!]

· Sawbones: Slang for a surgeon or doctor

Charles Dickens

Donna Bradley Burcher | Senior Technical Editor | Symitar®

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