[Ads-l] Shifting connotations: Is novelette derogatory?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jun 17 16:30:30 UTC 2015

The Oxford Dictionaries website has an entry for the noun "novelette"
with the description "chiefly derogatory":


[Begin excerpt]
Novelette noun
chiefly derogatory
A short novel, typically one that is light and romantic or sentimental
in character.
[End excerpt]

In the domain of science fiction I do not think that "novelette" is
derogatory. The term is used to indicate the length of a story, and it
does not have a negative connotation.

Below is an excerpt from a webpage of the Science Fiction and fantasy
Writers of America (SFWA) website. The excerpt is about story lengths
for the Nebula Awards which are the primary honors bestowed by the


[Begin excerpt]
Nebula Awards will be made in the following categories:
     1) Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
     2) Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
     3) Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
     4) Novel: 40,000 words or more.
[End excerpt]

I have read/heard the term "novelette" most frequently in discussions
of genre fiction, and it has been used without derogative intent (I


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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