On sleeping beauties

On sleeping beauties

Mark Peters debunks some linguistic fairy tales with a new term:

“Sleeping beauties” is perfect for describing words that were in use at some point, and then faded away, only to reawaken to widespread use decades or even centuries down the line. It’s as fitting and catchy as other web-spread lingo, such as eggcorns, snowclones, crash blossoms, and the Colbert suffix. Let’s add “sleeping beauty” to the list.

For example:

“Truthiness” is a great example of a sleeping beauty. Seemingly coined in the debut episode of The Colbert Report in 2005, it was also used back in 1824, as we know from this OED example: “Everyone who knows her is aware of her truthiness.”

“Regift” (Seinfeld) dates from 1727, and “Not!” (Wayne’s World) actually dates from 1860.

Let sleeping beauties lie? Never.