Chaucerís Words

Words index  Vivian Cook

The person who is cited in the Oxford English Dictionary using the most English words for the first time is Geoffrey Chaucer with 2004 words. This does not mean that he was necessarily the person who introduced a word into English, just that it is found for the first time in his extensive writings between 1374 and 1386. Here is a selection of some of these words.

Absence

Accident

Add

Agree

Bagpipe

Bed-head

Blunder, to

Border

Box

Chant, to

Cholera

Chuck to

Cinnamon

Desk

Digestion

Dishonest

Dung-cart

Effect

Elixir

Examination

Femininity

Finally

Flute

Funeral

Galaxy

Gaze to

Glow to

Hernia

Horizon

Increase n.

Infect to

Ingot

Jolliness

Latitude

Laxative

Milksop

Miscarry, to

Nod, to

Notify

Obscure

Observe

Outrageous

Peregrine

Perpendicular

Persian

Princess

Resolve v.

Rumour

Scissors

Session

Snort v.

Superstitious

theatre

Trench

Universe

utility

Vacation

Yeal

Village

Vitriol

Vulgar

Wallet

Wildness

Of course there are many that did not catch on, such as:

agreeability, besmottered, corrumpable, displeasant, horsely, jangleress, necessarious, rete, withinforth

Many of these words reflect the influence in England of French as the language of the ruling class for some 300 years and of Latin as the language of education and scholarship. However English was also open to other languages. For example here are some of Chaucerís words that come from Arabic:

   almanac, nadir alkali, borax, tartar, satin, gipon, checkmate, damask. Shakespeare's new words  Shakespeare word test  Dr Johnson's Dictionary