Origins of Tweet and Other Important Words

tweet, word usage, fun facts

Words Organize Thoughts and Introduce Concepts


Do you know the origins of tweet, a now very-familiar term in social media? Word meanings and origins are often lost over time. If we understood who coined them and for what reasons, it tells us a lot about the author and the time in which he/she lived. As such, words are powerful for expressing mental concepts and influencing thinking, sometimes for centuries. Imagine how the concept of a ‘tweet’ has altered our world view…including the (perhaps ill-advised) practice of American presidents.

Just for fun, test your knowledge of the following eight words that literally changed how we think about, see and imagine the world around us. For the answers to your test, visit: Eight Words That Changed the Way We Think.


Word Test #1: Twitter (Hear ye, hear ye, twiterith)


The origins of the modern word usage of ‘tweet’ might surprise you. What 14th century Medieval poet is credited with coining the phrase ‘twitter’ (well, okay … ‘twiterith’)? And, by the way, this usage predates both ‘chirp’ and ‘warble’ by nearly a century.


Word Test #2: Serendipity


What Persian fairly tale did this 18th century English writer use to invent the word “Serendipity” on Tuesday, January 28th, 1754?


Word Test #3: Panorama


What artistic device was first called a ‘panorama’ by Irish artist Robert Barker? The irony is not lost that while panorama means ‘all-seeing,’ this artistic device actually imprisons its audience!


Word Test #4 and #5: Visualise and Intellectualise


What Romantic poet invented the word ‘visualize” in 1817, a full century before the word ‘envision’ was even coined? And what does this have to do with other words such as ‘psychosomatic’ and ‘pessimism?’ He also coined ‘intellectualise’ which to him mean to transform a physical object into some mental property. However, it is suggested that he borrowed this from the traveller known as “Walking Stewart.”


Word Test #6: Bureaucracy


What French economist invented this word for the tiresome red tape of governments? In a graphic depiction, it is a combination of the word for ‘desk’ and ‘the power of.’


Word Test #7: Photography


New words often happen through competition. The English astronomer and inventor Sir John Herschel’s proposal of the word ‘photography’ had to compete with what other words for acceptance and then widespread usage?


Word Test #8: Muggle


Okay, if you don’t recognize this one, I don’t know what to say for ya. Maybe that you’ve lived under a rock since 1997?


New Words Happen


Just like the origins of tweet, people do indeed just make things up. Sometimes they actually stick and have great influence on the way that successive generations view the world. To learn the answers to the Word Tests above, visit: Eight Words That Changed the Way We Think.

Here’s one my friend and I coined:  dumbassery.

Meaning? Well, if I have to tell you…


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