10 Words We Learned From Literature

Think about all the words you’ve ever glanced over. Every page, every chapter, every book – the number is staggering, especially for bookworms. Most of the words you’ve read once, you’ll read again – in new sentences and new meanings – but the same old word choice (a mere one million plus for English speakers) can get so drab. That’s why we’re thankful that writers take it upon themselves to coin new terms, play off of old ones, or combine them as they please simply because they can.

As a little thank you to our creative wordsmiths, we’ve put together a few of a favorites to vamp up your vocab. Some of these author-coined terms may surprise you!


George Orwell, 1984


Bellyfeel – a gut instinct

Conversational uses: When you probably shouldn’t order another margarita, when you probably shouldn’t sample the expired milk, when the skies are grey but your phone says sunny and 75 – listen to your bellyfeel!


William ShakespeareHenry VI Part 3


Clangor – the sound of a loud clamour

Conversational uses: Use this term to describe the sounds that give you a headache (because you didn’t trust your bellyfeel and went for another margarita), the sound of the neighborhood kids banging pots and pans together as they sing the soundtrack to Frozen, or the sound of your dog as he runs into the sliding glass door.


Anthony BurgessA Clockwork Orange


Droog – friend; companion

Conversational uses: Use this term to address acquaintances, co-workers, and any close buddy.


Roald DahlThe BFG


Gloriumptious – glorious and wonderful!

Conversational uses: Use this term when you’re extremely excited, when something positive happens, or sarcastically when something terrible happens and you’re feeling snarky.


Lewis CarrolAlice Through the Looking Glass


Farfarren – travel safe; bon voyage; fare well under fair skies.

Conversational uses: Use this term when your droog leaves the room.


John MiltonParadise Lost


Lovelorn – forsaken by one’s lover

Conversational uses: Use this term at the end of a relationship: after the initial breakup but before the ice cream and tears.


Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Micawber – an optimistic person

Conversational uses: Use this term to describe all the lovelorn droogs who still know life is gloriumptious!


J.K. RowlingHarry Potter Series


Muggle – non magical person

Conversational uses: Use this word as a more pleasant alternative to ‘basic.’


Rudyard KiplingJust So Stories

Svengali – evil, and with malicious intent

Conversational uses: Use this word to identify the evil doers making all the clangor.


James JoyceFinnegan’s Wake


Quark – the cry of a gull.

Interesting fact: the physics term, quark, was actually taken from this literary context, specifically from the line, “three quarks for Mister Mark.” The link between the term and the number three seemed suited to the way quarks operate in the universe and the theory that they come in three different ‘flavors’: up, down, and strange.

Conversational uses: When you want to confuse people, point up at the flock of birds above and yell ‘quark!’ People with either think you’re a physics genius or slightly deranged.


Do you have any favorite literary words? Share them with us in the comments!