1st Edition

Language Change and Nineteenth-Century Science New Words, New Worlds

By Catherine Watts Copyright 2023
    260 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Have you ever looked at a word and thought: ‘I wonder where that came from’? You might well find the answer in this book, which considers the origin and formation of some of the many thousands of new words that were coined in English during the nineteenth century in the broad field of ‘science’.

    Changes in society are often accompanied by the need to find names for such changes which, in turn, has an impact on how the language develops as a result. The British Industrial Revolution ushered in a new era of language change, which led to many new coinages in the English language reflecting scientific knowledge as it developed. Many of these neologisms belong to specialist vocabulary, but others do not, and it is these lay coinages which form the focus of this book and are located within their social, cultural and historical backgrounds.

    Aimed at postgraduate students of the English language and all those interested in the history of the English language, this work explores new worlds and offers an original and fascinating etymological journey through nineteenth-century science in its broadest sense.


    Chapter One: What’s in a word? Exploring word histories

    Chapter Two: Selected background to nineteenth-century Britain

    Chapter Three: What’s in a name? Exploring scientific eponyms

    Chapter Four: Focus on affixation

    Chapter Five: The naming of diseases, conditions and medical developments in the nineteenth century

    Chapter Six: Travelling the world and the naming of zoological specimens in the 1800s

    Chapter Seven: Exploring the world of nineteenth-century botany

    Chapter Eight: Palaeontology and geological time

    Chapter Nine: The nineteenth-century pharmacy and new chemical terminology



    Catherine Watts has worked in Higher Education for over forty years and is a Senior Fellow/International Teaching Fellow (Higher Education Academy, UK), affiliated to the universities of Heidelberg (Germany), Alcalá de Henares (Spain) and Shanghai (China). Since 2013 she has written eight textbooks for language teaching/learning (all published by Routledge) which reflect Catherine’s research interests.

    This book reads like a journey, navigating meanings and sources from many different social and cultural contexts. As well as the fundamental need to classify and name in order to make sense of our world, we all engage in wordplay to actively create and enrich the language. Great anecdotes, charming pictures.

    - Dr Jane Jones at Kings College