Words invented by authors

Many terms we use everyday were actually coined by writers only a few decades ago. The following are some interesting examples.


The noun robot meaning ‘a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically’ came into English via Czech in the early 1920s. It was coined by Czech author Karel Čapek and made its first appearance in a 1920 science fiction play called R.U.R., which is short for Rossum’s Universal Robots. The word is from Czech robota meaning ‘forced labour, drudgery’.


In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell created a language he called Newspeak. One of the words that this fictional language spawned – and one that has entered wider usage – is doublethink. It refers to the acceptance of contrary opinions or beliefs at the same time. In Orwell’s novel, doublethink is the result of political indoctrination by the totalitarian Party, which contributed to the current meaning.

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