Tween from Tolkien: 15 words you never knew came from literature

15 words you never knew came from literature (c)
15 words you never knew came from literature (c)

Words and sayings often come from literature but in the course of time we readers tend to forget that. The UK literature website,, has made a special effort in listing fifteen such words to give you an idea what you might have been missing. And yes, even the Professor has been credited with one particular term: Tween.

In case you are having any doubts on the statements made in this entertaining infographic do check back with Etymology Online to see for yourself: yes, those 15 words you never knew came from literature are in fact from the books mentioned. In some cases there may be the question of what or who came first or what or who made the term in question truly popular but it is quite a decent list. For the record: If you are really trying to be picky you will probably find some word origins different from this list – the Spanish speaking world will have known of ‘cojones’ before Ernest Hemingway. Just to give you an example *cough*.

15 words you never knew came from literature (c)
15 words you never knew came from literature (c)

Infographic credit:

P.S.: For further reading I would like to suggest this post: Ten ‘Modern’ Words with Older Literary Connections.

P.P.S.: The one thing, though, seems to be that “unfriend” used to be “onfrendes” in Layamon’s “Brut” and this writer found the word but got the date wrong – 1275 (sic!) doesn’t really work with a piece which has been (supposedly) written ca. 1190-1215. However, this won’t stop any linguist!

P.P.P.S.: If you like this sort of post and want to spend the rest of your life with reading up on word origins simply go to You were given fair warning!

P.P.P.P.S.: And yes, I know the full explanation given for tweens is actually from The Lord of the Rings:

At that time Frodo was still in his tweens, as the hobbits called the irresponsible twenties between childhood and coming of age at thirty-three.

J.R.R. Tolkien. LotR. FotR, Book I, Chp. 2. The Shadow of the Past; my emphasis.

Let us try not to be too correct here, shall we? It has been duly noted. 😉

Marcel R. Bülles

Marcel R. Bülles is the author of, a specialist blog centering on worldwide Tolkien fandom, geekdom and research. He works as a freelance translator, journalist and writer and is the founder of the German Tolkien Society as well as a co-founder to RingCon, Europe's formerly biggest fantasy film convention. You can find him in cafés all over the world sipping an espresso blogging, writing, reading. At one point he was married to an extremely lovely French lady by the nickname of Sauron. Yes, that Sauron. He is also active with the International Tolkien Fellowship on Facebook and the Tolkien Folk on Instagram.