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How did A Christmas Carol change the English language?

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843) introduced many  memorable words, phrases and idioms into the English language. It also popularised the greeting 'Merry Christmas' which was not widely used at that time.

Stave One is a particularly rich source of memorable phrases.
  • Bah Humbug! interjection. An exclamation of irritation or disgust. 
  • Dead as doornail - obviously/conclusively dead.
  • Ghost of Christmas Past: noun.  A person or thing from a past you might choose to forget 
  • Gruel - a thin liquid food of oatmeal - used to refer to cheap/poor food. 
  • Scrooge: noun. Someone with cold/mean/miserly attitude. Also someone who transforms from bad to good.
  • Tight fisted - ungenerous 

Famous quotations

 A Christmas Carol is one of the most widely quoted texts in literature. Here are some widely used examples from the opening description of Scrooge:
  • Marley was dead, to begin with … Old Marley was as dead as a doornail.
  • Oh! but he was …tight -fisted
  • The cold within him froze his old features.
  • He carried his own low temperature always about with him
  • No warmth could warm, no win-try weather chill him.
More quotations and on Dickens and Christmas here
A Christmas Carol Study Pack complete (abridged) audio & text — £1.99
English Language Teaching Pack — only £1.99


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