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Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers

By Paul Dickson

Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers

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Started reading:
9 November 2014
Finished reading:
15 November 2014

Review

Lexicographer Paul Dickson, in the process of establishing a canon of words created by Shakespeare, decided to go far beyond the Bard; this book includes dozens of terms invented or popularized in Shakespeare’s plays, plus several hundred others he was able to trace to a single individual, from “blurb” (Gelett Burgess) to “work in progress” (Ford Madox Ford). Its entertainment value is at least equal to its value as a reference book. And Dickson includes one word of his own: “demonym,” a collective noun for the human residents of a given area — say, “Michiganders.” I spent the next several hours trying to come up with a neologism I could foist off on the rest of the world; that’s the kind of effect Authorisms has.