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How World War I gave us 'cooties'

Jonathan Lighter

The Brits called it the "Great War." To the Yanks, it was the "World War." No one wanted to think there could be a second. Though World War I, which began 100 years ago next month, devastated lives and landscapes, its effect on language was almost paradoxically positive. It spawned hundreds of new words and popularized scores of old ones. Many of them survive today -- there are "cooties," "camouflage," "scrounge" and "dud," for example -- but many have lost their once-widely recognized associations with the war that was hoped would "end war."



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