Writing a historical novel requires checking the provenance of words to make sure they are not anachronistic. Your eighteenth-century narrator cannot use the word “dingus,” for example, because it wasn’t coined until 1840. It’s something I feel pretty strongly about.
Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon called the “black bird” a dingus, slang along the lines of whatchamacallit. I’m sure that was appropriate to its time.
I happened to see the index of words I’ve looked up recently:
staccato, pathetic, unconscious, comatose, manumission, beatitude, hit, runabout, streetwise, kid, dingus, diffuse, eczema, fun, modern, groats, fairy, hand-me-downs, traffic, advertising, rigamarole, twerp, snug, odds, taxi, loopy, goofy, refugee, pronto, scamper, skedaddle, lynch, vogue, all the rage, frisky, borborygmus, hoodwink, four-in-hand, gig, cute, spooky, generalissimo, galumph, archipelago, genius
Do these terms give some kind of skeletal idea of what the novel’s all about? I don’t know, but it’s fun to see them all in a bunch.