Words for Women Writing Memoirs, #1

by Matilda Butler on January 1, 2012

catnav-rosies-daughters-activePost #14– Women’s Memoirs, Rosie the Riveter – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

2012 Kicked Off with New Words (Well, Sort of)

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 — #1

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.

The first word on our list seems incredibly appropriate to represent that period in history.

A-bomb, n.

Etymology: the initial letter of atom n. and atomic adj. + bomb n.

Definition: = atom bomb n.

First use as listed in Oxford English Dictionary:

1945 Daily Mirror 8 Aug. 1 (headline) Jap Radio says Evacuate—’Ware A-Bombs.

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