Words for Women Writing Memoir, #17

by Matilda Butler on January 17, 2012

catnav-rosies-daughters-activePost #29– Women’s Memoirs, Rosie the Riveter – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

Memoir Writers, Storytellers and Journalers, Our Third Week of Words from World War II

Here’s the 17th word on our list that can first be attributed to the period of World War II between 1940 and 1945. As you may know, I lived in Gilroy, California for 13 years. Yes, the Garlic Capital of the World. Since garlic grew in the nearby fields, it seemed redundant to grow it in my garden. However, when I began to investigate, I found there were many unusual garlics that would never show up in the grocery store or even the farmers’ market. So I began to grow some of these exotic varieties. They were fun to use and even more delightful (and delicious) to give as gifts. Therefore, I knew that garlic was considered an allium. However, I didn’t know the word allicin until I found it today for you.

allicin, n.

Etymology: < Latin allium garlic (modern Latin Allium , genus name) + -c- + -in suffix1.
Biochem.

Definition: An antibacterial substance in garlic which is an oily yellow liquid with the characteristic odour of garlic; S-2-propenyl-2-propene-1-sulphinothioate, (C3H5S)2O.

First use as listed in Oxford English Dictionary:

1944 Cavallito & Bailey in Jrnl. Amer. Chem. Soc. 66 1950/1 The garlic antibacterial, hereinafter called allicin, showed a sharp zone of inhibition with the periphery accentuated by a line of heavy growth.

Although the word’s first use was in a scientific journal in 1944, the following example shows how such words eventually work their way into public use.

1990 Here’s Health Dec. 30/2 (advt.) The best garlic for you (but not for your breath) is raw garlic. It provides a substance called allicin which has important benefits but is also very smelly.

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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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