Terrorism

1795

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When did the word terrorism find its way into the English language?

September 11th? Lockerbee? Oklahoma City?

Give it some thought, and I’m sure you can guess the answer. As long as you’re willing to stretch back a few hundred years.

The word was coined, in English, in reference to The Terror that was part of the French Revolution.

This excerpt from the January 30, 1795 edition of the London Times, reporting on the French National Convention in Paris, appears to be the First Mention of the word in English.

The article begins like this:


NATIONAL CONVENTION
SITTING OF DEC. 28

Duhem:–You have given proofs that the whole Convention will a Republic (Laughter–Murmurs). It can therefore never be your intention to second the foolish hopes of Aristrocracy and Royalism, which are impudently rearing their crests at our very doors, and would re-establish the Constitution of 1791.–(The whole Assembly rose, crying out Vive la Republique!)


Much later on in the transcript, one Monsieur Brzard utters the word that suddenly was part of the English language, and which occupies us so fully today.


Brzard.–“There exists more than one system to overthrow our liberty. Fanaticism has raised every passion; Royalism has not yet given up its hopes, and Terrorism feels bolder than ever.”

Terrorism. Capitalized, no less. It seems even bolder today, n’est ce pas?