How and when was the word “tea” first used?
A new book, A Story of English in 100 Words, by linguistics expert David Crystal, lists how English words have been used throughout the ages and demonstrates how the language has evolved. Crystal believes that these words are crucial to the development of the language, and traces the etymology and social standing of each of the words he has chosen.
The word “tea” for example was first documented in the 17th Century. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary in 1660 that he sampled his very first cup of tea. Tea drinking started out as an upper class activity but as the price fell, it became more and more popular across society. This then led to a lot of tea related words – teapot, teaspoon, teahouse.
The word “hello” began as street slang in the early 1800s. Before this, “hal,” “hail,” “hey,” “ho,” and “hi” were used, at different periods. “Hello” became more popular with the invention of the telephone.
“LOL” is used as an example of 20th Century English. Used as an abbreviation of “laughing out loud,” we tend to use this mostly via text message or IM chat. My mum, however, still uses it as “lots of love!”
You can take a sneak peek at, or buy, the book here.