July 14, 2013
novelty (noun)
\NAH-vul-tee\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 : something new or unusual2 : the quality or state of being new : newness3 : a small article intended mainly as an unusual ornament or toy
How do you use it?
At a dinner party held for George Washington in the summer of 1789, Mrs. Alexander Hamilton served a novelty for dessert -- ice cream!
Are you a word wiz?

Ice cream isn't new anymore -- and neither is the word "novelty." We have already told you it is old. Now let's see if you can guess how old. Which answer choice do you think correctly finishes the sentence we've started below? When the word "novelty" was new, English-speaking people were:

The earliest known use of the word "novelty" happened in 1382, before English-speaking people had learned about the printing press and were still writing books by hand. The word is probably older than that, but because books were rare then, it is hard to know exactly how old it really is. We do know that English speakers started using the word "novelty" after learning the similar Middle French word "novelete," which meant "new" or "novel." The French developed their word from the Latin "novus," which means "new."
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