Jane Austen’s Neologistic Contributions to English

Jane Austen

In honor of Jane Austen’s birthday on December 16, we’d like to highlight some entertaining words that appear in her books and letters. For the following terms, Jane Austen has the distinction of being the first citation in the OED; this doesn’t necessarily give Austen coinage credit, though it does mean that she was an early user of these terms.

Words Jane Austen added to English

Because of the popularity of her writing, words that might have otherwise fallen into obscurity are kept alive by each new generation of Jane Austen fans (or whatever your chosen term for Austen fandom is). Celebrate Jane Austen by using the following terms in conversation today:

coze: “Miss Crawford..proposed their going up into her room, where they might have a comfortable coze.” —Mansfield Park

cousinly: “That cousinly little interview.” —Persuasion

gad:  “Mrs. Charles’s nursery-maid..is always upon the gad.” —Persuasion

itty: “My dear itty Dordy’s remembrance of me is very pleasing to me.” —Letters

sprawly: “Why is my alphabet so much more sprawly than Yours?” —Letters

What words have you learned from Jane Austen?

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