BORN IN FICTION

10 Words You Didn’t Know Have Literary Origins


Published on May 13, 2024


Credit: Glen Noble

Even now, when reading seems to be on the decline compared to the past, literature still plays an important role in how we construct our everyday language. From Shakespearean soliloquies to modern sci-fi jargon, literature has gifted us with a plethora of words that now pepper our conversations.

Let's explore 10 captivating examples of words that originated in fiction and literature, illuminating the enduring power of narrative to change the world.

1

Serendipity

Credit: Michael Dziedzic

Coined by 18th-century English writer and art historian Horace Walpole in a letter to a friend, this word refers to a fortunate discovery made by accident. After making an unexpected discovery about a lost artwork, he referenced an ancient Persian tale called The Three Princes of Serendip, where its three protagonists would be - Walpole told his correspondent - "always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of."

2

Quixotic

Credit: Mick Haupt

Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes' iconic novel Don Quixote, this term describes someone who is extravagantly idealistic and impractical. It stems from the chivalrous but delusional character Don Quixote, who often embarked on fanciful quests in pursuit of romanticized ideals but losing sight of reality on the way, to the point of confusing ordinary windmills with the mythical giants of old tales.

3

Catch-22

Credit: Hans Vivek

Joseph Heller popularized this phrase in his satirical novel of the same name, depicting a paradoxical situation in which escape is impossible because of contradictory rules. Set in World War II, from the perspective of a U.S. Air Force Captain, the novel explores the absurdity of war and bureaucratic logic through the protagonist's futile attempts to evade combat duty and the unreasonable demands of his superiors.

4

Newspeak

Credit: Markus Spiske

George Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece 1984 left an enduring legacy in the form of a rich vocabulary related to censorship and control. Some terms like "Big Brother," "Doublethink," or "Thought Police" are still popular in everyday speech. In the novel, these words form part of " Newspeak," a controlled language used by the totalitarian regime of Oceania in order to restrict freedom of thought and manipulate public perception.

5

Cyberspace

Credit: Markus Spiske

Coined by William Gibson in his groundbreaking science fiction novel Neuromancer, cyberspace refers to the virtual reality of computer networks. Gibson's pioneering work anticipated the internet age and our modern dependence on technology, helping shape our contemporary understanding of digital landscapes and connectivity.

6

Scrooge

Credit: Chad Madden

Thanks to Charles Dickens's timeless classic A Christmas Carol, the name Scrooge has become synonymous with selfishness and greed. Unfortunately for Ebenezer Scrooge, the protagonist of the short novel, despite undergoing a transformative journey of redemption in the story, we mostly remember him by his worst side.

7

Nerd

Credit: Dmitry Ratushny

Although the word has a disputed etymology, the popularity of the word "nerd" likely owes to its usage in Dr. Seuss' If I Ran the Zoo where it referred to an imaginary creature. However, the term underwent a transformation in meaning over the years. It eventually evolved into a derogatory term for bookish people with a noticeable lack of social skills. Nowadays, though, it has lost its negative connotations and it is used to describe someone passionate or knowledgeable about niche interests in the realm of science and technology.

8

Robot

Credit: Phillip Glickman

Coined by Czech playwright Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), the term robot is derived from the Czech word "robota," meaning forced labor. Surprisingly - taking into account that it was written in the 1920s - Čapek's visionary play explores themes of artificial intelligence, automation, and the ethical implications of creating sentient beings.

9

Tween

Credit: Vitolda Klein

Initially an abbreviation of "between" dating back to the year 1300, the term "tween" took on a new meaning in the late 20th century. Influenced by the word "teen," it emerged as a noun referring to a child nearing puberty, typically between the ages of 9 and 12. However, an alternative usage was popularized by J.R.R. Tolkien, who employed the term in The Lord of the Rings , to describe the "irresponsible twenties between [Hobbit] childhood and coming of age at thirty-three."

10

Utopia

Credit: Victor

Coined by Sir Thomas More in the 16th century, in his influential work Utopia, this term describes an idealized, imaginary society characterized by harmony, equality, and prosperity. More's vision of a perfect civilization has sparked countless literary and philosophical explorations into the possibilities and pitfalls of utopian ideals. The opposite concept would be a "dystopia."


CONSUMER CHRONICLES

10 Insane Malls Across America You Need to Experience


Published on May 13, 2024


Credit: Igor Karimov

Once at the heart of the American experience, malls have evolved to align with modern shopping and consumption habits. Shopping in America has long transcended the mere acquisition of goods; it encompasses an immersive experience. Some malls have embraced this shift, focusing on architectural innovation and captivating attractions to enhance the shopping experience.

Join us, and brace yourself for a journey through some of the most mind-blowing shopping centers in the United States.

1

Mall of America

Credit: Tyler Vigen, CC BY 4.0

Location: Bloomington, Minnesota

The godfather of them all - and the largest mall in the country - the aptly named Mall of America isn't just a shopping mecca, it's an entertainment empire. Spanning over 5.6 million square feet, this colossal complex boasts over 500 stores, an indoor amusement park, an aquarium, mini-golf, and even a wedding chapel. If you are planning to visit, bring a compass, you can easily get lost inside!

2

American Dream

Credit: Anthony Quintano, CC BY 2.0

Location: East Rutherford, New Jersey

True to its name, American Dream is an almost surreal amalgamation of shopping, dining, and entertainment. The second-largest shopping mall in the United States, it's more like a city within a mall, as it is home to an indoor ski slope, a water park, an aquarium, and the Nickelodeon Universe theme park.

3

Galleria Dallas

Credit: David Leo Veksler, CC BY 2.0

Location: Dallas, Texas

Modeled after the historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Galleria Dallas isn't just a shopping center, it's a work of art. With its stunning glass vaulted ceiling, an iconic ice rink, and hundreds of luxury stores, it’s a haven for fashion enthusiasts. You can even stay in the mall if you are visiting the area, as it is home to the four-star Westin Galleria Hotel.

4

The Mall at Millenia

Credit: Miosotis Jade, CC BY-SA 4.0

Location: Orlando, Florida

Nestled in the heart of Orlando's tourist district, The Mall at Millennia - also known as Millenia - offers luxury shopping in the guise of a tropical oasis. Attracting tourists from all over the world, it is home to many high-end retailers like Chanel, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton. If you are already visiting Orlando, it might be a good idea to drop by!

5

The Shops at Columbus Circle

Credit: Sebastiandoe5, CC BY-SA 4.0

Location: New York City, New York

Located at the southwest corner of Central Park, right next to the geographic center of Manhattan, The Shops at Columbus Circle redefined the concept of luxury shopping in the Big Apple. With breathtaking views of the city and a collection of Michelin-starred restaurants, this mall is a sanctuary for anyone looking for upscale brands and gourmet dining.

6

Destiny USA

Credit: US Embassy Canada, CC BY 2.0

Location: Syracuse, New York

More than just a mall, Destiny USA is a giant entertainment and shopping complex in the city of Syracuse. The largest in its state, with over 250 stores, an indoor go-kart track, ropes course, and mirror maze, it attracts over 26 million visitors per year. A paradise for thrill-seekers of all ages, you certainly can’t miss it!

7

Aventura Mall

Credit: Chris6d, CC BY-SA 4.0

Location: Miami, Florida

A cultural hotspot in the heart of Miami, the Aventura Mall is the third-largest mall in the United States by total square feet of retail space, boasting a vibrant farmers market, a large collection of original art pieces and sculptures, as well as over 300 stores and restaurants. But its centerpiece attraction is the Aventura Slide Tower, an exhilarating spiral slide designed by German sculptor Carsten Höller, offering visitors a unique blend of art and thrills.

8

The Grand Canal Shoppes

Credit: APK, CC BY-SA 4.0

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

Did you know that you can visit Venice in the middle of the Nevada desert? The Grand Canal Shoppes is built like a small replica of the Italian city, complete with indoor canals and gondola rides! With luxury shops, gourmet restaurants, and daily live performances, here you can enjoy a taste of Italy amidst the glitz and glamor of Las Vegas.

9

King of Prussia Mall

Credit: Ii2nmd, CC BY-SA 4.0

Location: King of Prussia, Pennsylvania

With over 450 stores spread across 2.8 million square feet, King of Prussia Mall is a beast of a mall, and the largest on the East Coast. From high-end fashion to budget-friendly retailers, it's a shopper's paradise just outside of Philadelphia. Also, it is home to many unique attractions, like an indoor skydiving center, an axe-throwing range, and even a tennis club with indoor courts!

10

South Coast Plaza

Credit: Coolcaesar at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0

Location: Costa Mesa, California

Rounding out our list is South Coast Plaza , the crown jewel of Orange County. Boasting the title of the largest shopping center on the West Coast, it’s a popular spot for luxury shoppers looking for high-end brands like Chanel, Hermès, and Prada. Even if you are not interested in shopping, its carefully designed spaces and prize-winning architecture make it a must-visit destination.

Looking for an extra scoop of literary fun?

Learn more with our Word of the day

quibble

/ˈkwɪb(ə)l/