Skip to main content

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 — £2.99
Aimed at inexperienced/reluctant readers & English language learners.
English Language Teaching Pack — only £1.99


Popular posts from this blog

Which countries do not have an official language?

According to Henry Hitchings Language Wars (2011) these nations do not currently have an official primary language:

Why is English not the official language of England?

58 countries list English as an official language - but not the UK. 

What is 'concept creep'?

Concept creep a term coined to describe 'psychology's expanding concepts of harm and pathology'. 
by applying concepts of abuse, bullying, and trauma to less severe and clearly defined actions and events, and by increasingly including subjective elements into them, concept creep may release a flood of unjustified accusations and litigation, as well as excessive and disproportionate enforcement regimes.   The concepts of abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice ... {have been subjected to historical changes}. In each case, the concept's boundary has stretched and its meaning has dilated. SourceThis trend towards a very broad definition of what constitutes 'harm' has been particularly pronounced on university campuses in the USA and - to a lesser extent - in the UK.

See Conor Friedersdorf's Atlantic essay, 'How Americans Became So Sensitive to Harm'

Download English FAQ Teaching Pack for only £1.99