Words for Women Writing Memoir, #15

by Matilda Butler on January 15, 2012

catnav-rosies-daughters-activePost #28– Women’s Memoirs, Rosie the Riveter – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Memoir Writers, Storytellers and Journalers, Here’s Another Word from World War II

Here’s the 15th word on our list that can first be attributed to the period of World War II between 1940 and 1945. Today’s word cluster reminds us of the variety of influences on our language. Certainly during WWII, the military brought words into the dictionary.

airlanded, adj.

Etymology: air n.1 + landed adj.

Definition: Of troops, equipment, etc.: transported to the field by aircraft.

First use as listed in Oxford English Dictionary:

1940 Charleston (W. Va.) Gaz. 13 May 5/2 Claiming the upper hand over air-landed German troops?, the authorities went to work yesterday to clean up Amsterdam with a vengeance.

[NOTE: In this first use quote, the word is hyphenated. See below for another adjectival variation -- airlanding -- that was originally stated as two words. Over time, the usual progression is from two words (e.g. on line) to a hyphenated phrase (on-line) to a single word (online). Language tends to move toward simplification.]

airlanding, adj.

Etymology: air n.1 + landing adj., originally (in air landing forces ) after German Luftlandetruppen , plural noun

Definition: Designating a military force which is transported to the field by aircraft.

First use as listed in Oxford English Dictionary:

1940 Chicago Daily Tribune 16 May 1/5 [Hitler's] proclamation also stressed?the ‘death-defying courage of the parachute troops and air landing forces’ (apparently troops landed from transport planes).

airland, v.

Etymology: air n.1 + land v., after air landing n., airlanding adj., airlanded adj., and German luftlanden

Definition: trans. To transport (troops, equipment, etc.) to the field by aircraft.

First use as listed in Oxford English Dictionary:

1941 Daily Kennebec Jrnl. (Augusta, Maine) 24 May 8/6 On their side the Nazis had air-landed mortars, machine guns and tommy guns, but no tanks.

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Background for Our (Mostly) Daily Word from World War II

A memoir writer carefully chooses her words. That’s the only way to convey meaning and emotion to readers. There is another level of word choice that a writer needs to consider. Words that are appropriate for the time period.

When Kendra and I were writing our collective memoir, Rosie’s Daughters: The “First Woman To” Generation Tells Its Story, we kept a book nearby that contained a new word that gained popularity in each year. This became a vital resource as we tried to find ways to recreate the different decades.

Let’s say you are writing about your childhood and using dialogue. Not only should you use the language level appropriate for your age, you should also be careful to not include words that weren’t even in the dictionary at that time.

Introducing Words First Known to be Used During World War II

This year, we’re going to bring you words introduced during World War II — 1940-1945. We continue our fascination with that period after our research for writing the memoir Rosie’s Daughters. Words from an era help to define that time period. We’ll post a word almost every day — always late in the afternoon. Be sure to check in regularly.

Where do we find these words? The Oxford English Dictionary, of course. OED is a resource for all writers, containing information not just about meaning and pronunciation but also about changes in our language, history and origins of more than 500,000 words. It traces the original public use of words through about 2.5 million quotations.

It is possible to search by year with the word was first introduced. By putting in 1940-1945, we found 2,122 words with a first documented use during World War II.

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If you want the official look, the official red and white polka dot scarf, we’ve got what you are looking for because no one else offers a true Rosie the Riveter bandana. Our bandana is a generous 27 x 27 inches so you can tie it just like Rosie the Riveter did. You also get more white polka dots — large ones just like Rosie wore — and in a random pattern. We studied her bandana to make sure we were offering you an authentic look. And finally, we’re pleased to say it is Made in the USA.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Alice Borodkin January 22, 2012 at

Yes, I remembr WW11. I was 8 when it started and 12 when it ended. I have an essay about that time which includes Rosie and glamourous women and wonderfull trains and little boy soldiers!

At least now I know they were little boys!

alice borodkin

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