Jan Huntingdon said she has a tattered 1790 edition of the K-Z volume of Thomas Sheridan’s ‘Dictionary of the English Language’, and the first word under Z is the first on this list, defined as: ‘One employed to raise laughter by his gestures, actions, and speeches; a merry Andrew, a buffoon.’
- Zany, 16th century From French zani or Italian zan(n)i, Venetian form of Gianni, Giovanni (John), stock name of the servants acting as clowns in the commedia dell’arte.
- Synthesis, around 1600 From Richard Morris.
- Unfriend, 1275 As a verb, dates back to 1659; the noun is even older, according to OxfordWords. Suggested by Politics and Tea.
- Hipster, 1941 OxfordWords, Oxford Dictionaries’ blog. From Politics and Tea again.
- Interactive, 1833 Nominated by Malcolm Redfellow.
- Trash, 1603 “Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing.” Iago in Othello. Nominated by Stig Abell.
- Fanboy, 1919 And fangirl. 1934. OxfordWords blog. Another Politics and Tea proposal.
- Advertorial, 1914 A headline in Rotarian, 14 May: “A word to the women folk. An advertorial.” Nominated by Jem Stone.
- Freak, 16th century Originally dialect: sudden, arbitrary change of mind. Four hundred years later, in 1978, Chic’s “Le Freak” reached number one. Proposed by Nedemus.
- Baseball, 1755 From the Diary of William Bray, Guildford. Jane Austen’s Catherine in Northanger Abbey, (written 1797-8), prefers “cricket, base-ball, riding on horseback” to books. From Sarah Brown.
Originally published in the Independent on 19th October 2014