Ecology & agnostic

Jennifer Reilly: I am a graduate student in Massachusetts (USA) and am doing a project on Aldous Huxley. I read somewhere that he coined the term "ecology." I'd be very interested to know if this is true. Also, did he contribute any other words to our current-day lexicon? By the way, as a former newspaper editor, I find your website very enjoyable.

Richard Young: I may be very wrong, but I suspect that it was Thomas Huxley who coined "ecology". Thomas Huxley was a biologist and an associate of Charles Darwin. He was also an ancestor of Aldous Huxley (grandfather, I think.) The Huxley family have been very influential in the worlds of science and the arts. Aldous' cousin Julian was also a famous scientist.

MJ: I'm sure that you are right about Thomas Huxley, although, strangely, the Shorter Oxford is silent on the subject. TH had a history of coining words; probably one of the more commonly used today is "agnostic", which he used to describe his religious stance. (I think its first outing was during a furious argument he had with Gladstone in the press on the subject of the Gadarene swine!

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