Friday, November 21, 2014

"The Top Ten Words Invented by Writers"

I have been a dedicated reader of the book pages of the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper for what must be at least two decades now, and seldom am I disappointed by the offerings there. This morning, for example, I found this little throwaway list of "The Top Ten Words Invented by Writers." 

On the list were several words whose origin surprised me.  In particular, this one:

6. Freelance

i) One who sells services to employers without a long-term commitment to any of them.
ii) An uncommitted independent, as in politics or social life .
The word is not recorded before Sir Walter Scott introduced it in Ivanhoe which, among other things, is often considered the first historical novel in the modern sense. Scott’s freelancers were mercenaries who pledged their loyalty and arms for a fee. This was its first appearance: “I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he refused them – I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of action will always find employment.”
 If you are interested in more from the list (such as the origins of words like: "hard-boiled," "serendipity," and "Banana Republic"), do click on the link to the article. 

And while you are there, take a look at all the fabulous stuff in the Guardian book pages (you can thank me later).

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