Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Such Language! 1917 Style

I used to have great fun with posts about early nineteenth century slang (and will probably have more of them). Imagine my delight, then, when in the course of research for my work-in-progress set in 1917, I ran across a list of words that first entered common usage (or at least were finally recorded in print) in this year. Entries are from the enormously fun and fascinating site Word Origins.

Ammo: It’s not surprising that a number of the words you’ll see here are related to the war, which the US had just entered in April...like this shortening of the word ‘ammunition.’

Blotto: Because another amusing term for being drunk is always useful.

Camouflage: a useful borrowing from our ally, the French.

Cootie: lice infestations being another by-product of trench warfare. Possibly arriving in English by borrowing from the Malaysian word for biting insect, kutu, by way of British soldiers serving in southeast Asia.

Bolshevik: The Russian Revolution in this year ushered a whole variety of words into English—not only this one, but also Leninist and Soviet as well.

Hokum: a borrowing from American theater slang, a blend of the words ‘hocus-pocus’ and ‘buncombe’ (or ‘bunkum’)

Spritz: to sprinkle or spray, borrowed from German.

Supersize: yes, really!

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