What's in a Word | All Blogs

A timeless allusion

By Debra Dobbins

If Ebenezer Scrooge were a real man living in our fair burg, he’d read the Business page of The Daily Sentinel.

Today this penurious entrepreneur would have noted the headline: “Ghost of Christmas future” with a wry smile. The headline alludes to one of the ghosts who visit him in “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens.

Published in 1843, “A Christmas Carol” gave us the word Scrooge, meaning a miserly misanthrope. And, yes, Scrooge is capitalized in Webster’s.

Millions of us who studied this classic tale in school remember that Scrooge has a change of heart and a change of ways. At the story’s end, he realizes that loving ties to family and friends are the best assets anyone can have.

We can thank Carl Barks for helping keep Scrooge in our language. According to Wikipedia, Barks created the cartoon character Scrooge McDuck, or Uncle Scrooge, in 1947, and countless kids around the world have read of his misadventures. We can also thank Jim Carrey, who lent his voice to Scrooge in Disney’s 2009 film version of the story.

Now that Scrooge has been in our lexicon for 167 years, let’s hope that he lasts for centuries to come. The English language would be poorer without him.


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