When Lexicographers study the origin of words, they look for the earliest recorded usage, which tends to fall to literature. Therefore, it is no great surprise that one of America’s greatest modern authors, F. Scott Fitzgerald could have been responsible for inventing one or two words that are still used today.
But he didn’t invent just one or tow words. Or even 5. Instead, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, Fitzgerald may have been responsible for inventing at least 10 modern words that have ended up in the annals of English language.
“We try to find the earliest recorded usage of every word in every sense, because we’re trying to tell the history of the English language,” says Katherine Martin, head of Oxford’s U.S. dictionaries. “Sometimes literature is the best first place to find things. Authors are innovators.”
daiquiri: a cocktail containing rum, lime, etc., named after a district in Cuba.
From This Side of Paradise (1920): “Here’s the old jitney waiter. If you ask me, I want a double Daiquiri.”
doggone!: a general exclamation.
From “May Day” (1920): “Doggone! Here’s some liquor I’ll say!”
dopeless: useless; foolish; socially inadequate.
From “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” (1920): “He had to admit that Cousin Bernice was sorta dopeless.”
impactive: of, pertaining to, or characterized by impact; having an impact.
From Tender Is the Night (1934): “Feeling the impactive scrutiny of strange faces, she took off her bath-robe and followed.”
-parter: forming compounds denoting something, esp. a published work, with a specified number of parts.
From a letter in 1939: “I have … over half-finished what will be a two-parter for the Saturday Evening Post.”
pepped out: exhausted.
From This Side of Paradise (1920): “Don’t say a word; I’m tired and pepped out.”
sardine: a young woman.
From This Side of Paradise (1920): “I’d like to bring a sardine to the prom in June.”
splush!: nonsense, rubbish.
From “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” (1920): “‘Splush!’ said Marjorie. ‘Admit it!’”
stinko: of a very low standard.
From a letter in 1924: “I thought The White Monkey was stinko.”
T-shirt: a simple kind of garment, orig. a man’s undershirt, typically short-sleeved and forming the shape of a letter T when spread out flat.
From This Side of Paradise (1920): “Amory, provided with ‘six suits summer underwear … one sweater or T shirt..’, set out for New England, the land of schools.”
well-concealed: hidden, disguised, put out of sight in an efficient manner.
From Great Gatsby (1925): “He put out his … hand with well-concealed dislike. ‘I’m glad to see you, sir.’”
wicked: excellent, splendid; remarkable
From This Side of Paradise (1920): “‘Tell ‘em to play “Admiration”!’ shouted Sloane … ‘Phoebe and I are going to shake a wicked calf.’”