The other day, I forget exactly when, I heard someone on BBC Radio 4 use a word I hadn’t come across before, and one to which my immediate reaction was “he’s making it up”. However, I should have remembered that it is actually very difficult to make up a “new” word in English as so many have been created and then forgotten over the years. The word this time was indignance and I was at first puzzled as to whether he “meant” ‘indignity’ or ‘indignation’. The context then clarified it to ‘indignation’.

Needless to say, the OED has an entry for the word, with this meaning, but I’m still wondering whether the speaker the other day was using it as a familiar word, or whether he simply ‘created’ it from indignant on the spur of the moment by analogy with all the other similar pairs, such as resistant ~ resistance. The OED’s most recent example for indignance dates from 1845, and its earliest from 1590.

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