Writing Historical Fiction: Period-Appropriate Language

Today, I simply want to share a tool that I found very helpful while I was writing my novel—a website called the Online Etymology Dictionary. It’s a great resource for writing historical fiction. Every time I wondered if a certain word was appropriate for my 19th century characters to use, all I had to do was look it up on that website, and I’d learn when the word came into use and how its meaning evolved over time.

The site contains some fascinating information. For example, I knew from Betsy’s letters that she used the exclamation Fudge! What I didn’t know until I looked it up was that the expression didn’t originally come from the candy. It came from a man’s name—Captain Fudge, who was known for telling lies. That reputation gave rise to sailors using the term fudge whenever they thought they were being told lies or nonsense.

6 Comments

Filed under Writing Historical Fiction

6 responses to “Writing Historical Fiction: Period-Appropriate Language

  1. Very cool! Although I do not write any historical fiction (yet?) this seems like a great resource. Thanks!

  2. krystal jane

    Awesome! Thanks for passing this along. I’ve had a historical idea in my head for years, but the language barrier has really been in my way.

  3. Great resource. Thank you!

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