Poe, Shakespeare, or Seuss: Who Coined it Better? A WOOF Compendium


Need a few new words to impress all your friends and family during all the holiday parties this year? Look no further! Here is your weekly WOOF compendium.

Monday: Google (1975 Dictionary of American Slang) — the Adam’s apple, the throat

Tuesday: Calf-Kneed (1994 Happy Trails: A Dictionary of Western Expressions) — knock-kneed, like an awkward calf

Wednesday: Richmond Lattimore (1995 Dictionary of American Authors) — (b. 1906 – d. 1984) Poet, translator, classical scholar, & prof. of Greek. Renowned for his disciplined yet poetic translations of classical Greek poetry, esp. Homer’s Iliad. His own poetry touched on Greek, Anglo-Saxon, and Norse traditions, and lyric poetry.

Thursday: Tintinnabulation (1951 Webster’s New Vest Pocket Dictionary) — the tinkling sound a bell makes, specifically after it has been struck

Friday: Lissome (1990 Webster’s New World Dictionary) — lithe, supple, limber, agile

woof compendium poe seussTintinnabulation has its origins in Latin, from the verb tinnire, to ring / clang / jangle, which is somewhat onomatopoeic (go ahead and say it out loud), and from there, tintinnabulum, a bell. However, the actual English noun, tintinnabulation, isn’t attested until c. 1845, when Edgar Allan Poe used it in his “The Bells.”

Keeping time, time, time / In a sort of Runic rhyme / To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells / From the bells, bells, bells, bells.

Here is a fun article from Flavorwire that talks about words that were invented in literature, like tintinnabulation. Shakespeare, that good and stalwart paragon of the English language, coined quite a few words, like mountaineer, and skim milk, apparently.

Do you have any favorite words that come poetry? There must be some great Seuss-isms out there!

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Courtney Tobin

I love ancient languages like Greek and Latin, but modern ones are pretty interesting, too! So working with the written word every day and helping Verblio customers get the content they need is really enjoyable. If I’m not reading Homer or Horace, I’m usually figuring out how everything at Verblio can be even more awesome.

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