Jane or Jones?
Jane Austen’s novels and letters are frequently cited in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), putting her work currently as the 253rd most frequently quoted source in the OED, with a total of 1,620 quotations. Of these quotations, 44 currently provide the very first evidence of a particular word, including the adjective ‘fragmented’ (from Northanger Abbey: “In the shape of some fragmented journal, continued to the last gasp”) and “sponge-cake” (from an 1808 letter).
Although not providing the first evidence of any new words, Bridget Jones’s Diary is nevertheless cited in the OED more than 30 times, providing modern evidence for words and phrases such as prick-teaser and midriff.
You can read more about the connection between Jane Austen and Bridget Jones’s Diary in Pride, Prejudice, and an obsession with Colin Firth.
Think you know your Jane from your Jones?
In this quiz, we pit Jane Austen’s novels against Bridget Jones’s Diary in the OED. Can you spot which of the cited words are from the hallowed pen of Austen and which from the probably somewhat squiffy pen of Bridget?
Who do you think is a source quoted for the following words in the OED:
Jane Austen or Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones?