Jack Doucette
I believe that the word capitalism was first used by an English author and member of Parliament, who was he?
J Doucette
According to Miriam-Webster's, it would be someone from c. 1877, if that helps.
Lewis Joplin II
I don't have a definitive answer but there are clues that point to Thackeray.

Capitalism was formed from the word "capital," in 1854, according to the "The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology" by Robert K. Barnhart (HarperCollins Publishers, New York, 1995). "Capital" means wealth and "comes to us from the Latin 'caput,' 'head,' dating back to the days when a person's wealth was reckoned in the number of head of cattle that he owned," according to the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).

The Oxford English Dictionary attributes a 1854 quote using the word to William Makepeace Thackeray from "The Newcomes" (1853-55), "The sense of capitalism sobered and dignified Paul de Florac."

An online chronology says "1857 -- Runs unsuccessfully for the Oxford seat in Parliament."

Return to the archive