Darwin, Wordmeister

By Carl Zimmer | February 12, 2009 1:48 am

Okay, you’re approaching Darwin saturation, I know. But how about Darwin’s impact on the English language? The Oxford English Dictionary credits him with the first use of 144 words. Did you know Darwin was the first person to use the word alfalfa in English? Or rodeo? Check out this post from my brother Ben for more. And be sure to read to the end to catch the most surprising neologism of all.


Comments (8)

  1. MoMan

    Looking forward to hearing you in a few hours at Raleigh. Now, for those of us who are not electro-whizzes, how in the heck do you sign up for this blog? I’ve looked and looked with no success. The reason that my usual sign-up pops up is that I get Phil Plait’s stuff. This is one of the general failings, in my opinion, of what is taking place in technology today, ignoring the needs and comprehension levels of those of us who have very successful careers and lives in non-technical fields (or other than in science and computers), apparently with the assumption that we all Twitter and Flitter. I wrote three books on my field and I always tried to assume that the layperson needed handholding (without condescension)but could follow technical information if just given a few keys. So, sign me up, please!

  2. Richard

    I had no idea that Ben was your brother. You are both Facebook friends, but from different directions.

    Also, he’s probably more intelligent; got into ‘communicatios`and all that stuff, and you’re still stuck in bilge.

  3. Wow, that’s cool. Only one question: what was alfalfa called before him?

  4. That’s quite interesting. Never knew that. Also I saw your talk today in Raleigh. Personally I was shocked to see so many interested in a talk about Darwin and evolution. I loved the talk. I can’t wait for the other talks over the year.

  5. ‘Nutate’ – etymology must be shared with Nutella as I rock, sway, or nod; usually involuntarily, after eating it.


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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