Top 10 Words and Phrases Created by Fiction Writers

top 10 words and phrases created by fiction writers

Neologisms are new words, uses, or expressions and for a new one that is inserted in the English language is quite difficult to do. Every year in the United States there are published 600,000 to 1,000,000 books, and although not all contain new words, some of them do and very rarely does a new word emerge and become part of our everyday language. While it is rare, there have been a handful of writers who have created a word, and those words are now commonplace and English speakers use them in everyday life. Here are the list of top 10 words and phrases created by fiction writers.

 Top 10 words and phrases created by fiction writers

10.Nerd-  Seuss Geisel

The list of top 10 words and phrases created by fiction writers starts with the word Nerd. Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, is often credited with the person who invented the word nerd. It appeared for the first time in its book of 1950 If I Ran the Zoo; however, it was not used in the same context as it is today. Instead, in the book, a boy named Gerald McGrew is visiting a zoo, but he does not find them sufficiently exciting, and if he was in charge, he would bring better animals, leading to the lines “And then, just to show them, I’m going to navigate to Ka-Troo / And bring back an It-Kutch a Preep and a Prok / Nerkle, a Nerd, and a Seersucker, too!

9.quork – James Joyce  

To the 9th position in this list of top 10 words and phrases created by fiction writers we have the word quork. Written over 17 years and published in 1939, just two years before the death of James Joyce, Finnegan’s Wake is one of the most difficult books in the English language to read. It has a nonlinear dream narrative and bounces around different psyches of characters. Despite having nothing to do with particle physics, Joyce helped contribute to the lexicon of the field. In 1963, Murray Gell-Mann sought a name for his theoretical elementary particle of matter that is smaller than a proton or a neutron. Gell-Mann originally came up with the word “quork”, which rhymed with pork.

8.Catch-22 -Joseph Heller 

We have Cache-22 in 8th position in this list of top 10 words and phrases created by fiction writers. Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 takes place in World War II and follows a bomber named John Yossarian with the United States Air Force. The titular capture 22 is a paradox in which “an attempt to escape makes the escape impossible.” An example of a catch-22 comes from actress Mary Murphy who said: “The show-business catch-22 – there is no job unless you have an agent, not an agent unless you have worked.

7.Yahoo – Jonathan Swift  

The classic book by Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels is divided into four different trips. On the last voyage, the main character, Lemuel Gulliver, is abandoned on the islands of the Land of the Houyhnhnms. The Houyhnhnms are a race of intelligent and talented horses. Also on the island are Yahoos, who are humanoids, but are savage brutes and are ruled by the Houyhnhnms.

6.Utopia – Sir Thomas More  

The utopia of Sir Thomas More was published in 1516 in Latin and is a representation of an ideal civilization. It is a socio political satire and asks if an ideal world is really possible. The word Utopia is also listed and it takes the 6th position. 

5.Cyberspace – William Gibson 

William Gibson is one of the most prominent figures in the cyberpunk movement and also coined the term “cyberspace”. In a tale written in 1982 called “Burning Chrome” describes cyberspace as a “mass consensual hallucination” among computer networks. Gibson expanded the idea of cyberspace in his magna, Necromancer, 1984. In the book, Gibson describes cyberspace as: A graphical representation of the data extracted from the banks of each computer in the human system. Complexity unthinkable. Lines of light extended in space without space of the mind, clusters and constellations of data. Like the lights of the city, receding.

4.Meme – Richard Dawkins  

Famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. The book’s main argument is that genes strive for immortality and life forms, like humans, are just the vessels used to achieve that goal. It was an innovative book and one of the first books of popular science of more success. In the book, Dawkins compares genes to units of culture, which he calls memes. He wrote: Memes (discrete units of knowledge, gossip, jokes, etc.) are to culture what genes are for life. Just as biological evolution is driven by the survival of the fittest genes in the genetic group and cultural evolution can be driven by the most successful memes.

3.Factoid – Norman Mailer 

3rd place is acquired by the word Factoid and listed  in top 10 words and phrases created by fiction writers list. Marilyn: A Biography is a photograph book of Marilyn Monroe. Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Norman Mailer provided a long essay for the text of the book. The book was incredibly controversial because Mailer theorized that the FBI and the CIA murdered Monroe because of her affair with Bobby Kennedy. It’s also the first time that the word “factoid” was used. A lot of people, including us TheTop10s, think that it means a brief, interesting fact. However, the suffix “-oid” usually means something that resembles, but isn’t a member of a group.

2.229 words – Shakespeare  

In the 2nd position to the list of top 10 words and phrases created by fiction writers we have Shakespeare who introduced 229 words. When it comes to inventing words, William Shakespeare is often credited with introducing more than 1,000, if not 2,000, words and phrases for the English language. However, this is oversimplification. Shakespeare has credited as the source for 229 words, which is incredibly impressive. Some of them include “bubble”, “eyeball” and “wormhole”.  

1.630 words – John Milton  

 John Milton wrote Paradise Lost in the seventeenth century. The English language was much more fluid than it is today. This gave the blind writer more freedom to create new words. As a result, Milton is credited with introducing 630 different words in the English language. Many of them have gone out of style, like “bloody” and “horrendous.” But he introduced some words that are still common today. One of the most famous of its neologisms is the word pandemonium.