from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of recent origin or introduction; not old or established; new.
  • Previously unknown; new and striking; unusual; strange: as, a novel contrivance; a novel feature of the entertainment.
  • Young.
  • Synonyms Fresh, Recent, etc. See new.
  • noun Something new; a novelty.
  • noun A piece of news; news; tidings: usually in the plural.
  • noun In civil law, a new or supplemental constitution or decree; one of the novel constitutions of certain Roman emperors, so called because they appeared after the authentic publications of law made by these emperors.
  • noun A fictitious prose narrative or tale, involving some plot of more or less intricacy, and aiming to present a picture of real life in the historical period and society to which the persons, manners, and modes of speech, as well as the scenery and surroundings, are supposed to belong.
  • noun Synonyms Tale, Romance, Novel. Tale was at one time a favorite word for what would now be called a novel, as the tales of Miss Austen, and it is still used for a fiction whose chief interest lies in its events, as Marryat's sea tales. “Works of Action may be divided into romances and novels. … The romance chooses the characters from remote, unfamiliar quarters, gives them a fanciful elevation in power and prowess, surrounds them by novel circumstances, verges on the supernatural or passes its limits, and makes much of fictitious sentiments, such as those which characterized chivalry. The poor sensational novel has points of close union with the earlier romance. … The novel, so far as it adheres to truth, and treats of life broadly, descending to the lowest in grade, deeply and with spiritual forecast, seeing to the bottom, is not only not open to these objections, but rather calls for … commendation.”

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun That which is new or unusual; a novelty.
  • noun obsolete News; fresh tidings.
  • noun A fictitious tale or narrative, longer than a short story, having some degree of complexity and development of characters; it is usually organized as a time sequence of events, and is commonly intended to exhibit the operation of the passions, and often of love.
  • noun (Law) A new or supplemental constitution. See the Note under Novel, a.
  • adjective Of recent origin or introduction; not ancient; new; hence, out of the ordinary course; unusual; strange; surprising.
  • adjective (Law) a new assignment or specification of a suit.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective new, original, especially in an interesting way

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun an extended fictional work in prose; usually in the form of a story
  • noun a printed and bound book that is an extended work of fiction
  • adjective original and of a kind not seen before
  • adjective pleasantly new or different


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

In various senses from Old French novelle or Italian novella, both from Latin novella, a singular noun use of the neuter plural of novellus, from novus ("new"). Some senses came to English directly from the Latin.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French novel ("new, fresh, recent, recently made or done, strange, rare") (modern nouvel), from Latin novellus ("new, fresh, young, modern"), diminutive of novus ("new").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word novel.


  • We need only augment the theory to include variables for the precise structural conditions in which the novel phenomena occur, and then draw up more complex functional laws of dynamical evolution that specify the ˜ordinary™ behavior when the new variables are not satisfied and the ˜novel™ behavior when the variables are satisfied.

    Emergent Properties O'Connor, Timothy 2006

  • In literature, while the traditional novel continued to thrive, the “new novel” of French writers like Alain Robbe-Grillet (b. 1922) and Natalie Sarraute challenged this form by concentrating on concrete details without plot or character development.

    3. Culture and Popular Culture 2001

  • Its preface features a history of the novel and Sade’s theories on the ‘modern novel‘:

    Reflections on the Novel by Sade: first English translation? « Jahsonic 2007

  • Its preface features a history of the novel and Sade’s theories on the ‘modern novel‘:

    November « 2007 « Jahsonic 2007

  • Its preface features a history of the novel and Sade’s theories on the ‘modern novel‘:

    27 « November « 2007 « Jahsonic 2007

  • a look back at the jfk assassination* roscoe museum displays one-of-a-kind jfk artifacts* dallas marks 45th anniversary of jfk assassination* huckabee to present dan rather talking about jfk assassination* former dallas sheriff jim bowles pens novel about jfk assassination* remembering jfk in dallas* jfk assassination viewed from the periphery in arresting new novel* jfk conspiracies: should we care?

    media monarchy 2008

  • Thirdly, "the Postman", as a David Brin novel, is extraordinary and would I think appeal strongly to lots of people here; if Terry Pratchett wasn't funny but retained all his other gifts and worldview, and was actually a sly bit _more_ subversive, it's something he could write.

    Catcher in the Rye, catchers in the cornfields 2009

  • Reading a Robert Heinlein novel is like reading a first draft.

    MIND MELD: Shrewd Writing Advice From Some of Science Fiction's & Fantasy's Best Writers 2009

  • Change unconstrained by prudence produces unpredictable consequences, threatening ordered liberty with chaos and ultimately despotism, and placing at risk the very principles the Conservative holds dear.4 Therefore, while Brandeis was right to acknowledge the import of states in experimenting with public policy, his use of the word novel suggests open-ended or unconstrained experimentation.

    Liberty and Tyranny Mark R. Levin 2009

  • SILK EGG, by the way, is the title novel for a larger manuscript entitled SILK EGG: COLLECTED NOVELS.

    Archive 2009-11-01 2009

  • Unlike most modern European languages, English designates book-length works of prose fiction with the term “novel”.

    Writing in the age of Big Data Ryan Ruby 2023


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 'The person who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid.' -the book Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen

    February 18, 2008

  • "I can't understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars."

    - Fred Allen

    November 7, 2008

  • I need to write a novel rather than short stories for a change.

    March 1, 2012