Hard to believe I’ve never looked this one up before, eh? LOL

My daughter has asked me a few times where the word novel comes from. I had some inkling, knowing my roots and the fact that novel can mean both “something new” and the fiction stories I so adore. But this morning I thought I’d flesh it out a bit.

Novel is from the Old French which is turn from Latin novellus, meaning “new, young, recent.” It’s been in English since the 15th century as an adjective (“what a novel idea!”), but was seldom used until the 1600s.

As a noun meaning a “fictitious narrative,” it dates to the 1560s, and following the same root. A novella was originally “a new story” and from there shifted to exclude the “new” aspect. Originally, it was used for short stories included in a collection–like one of Chaucer’s tales, for instance. Then came to be used for longer works by about 1630. Prior to that, such works were called romances.

Novelist dates from 1728, and novelize, which originally meant “to make new,” first appeared as such in the 1640s, morphing into “to be made into a novel” round about 1828.

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