I asked three copywriters about the word ‘copywriting’.
I asked Tom Albrighton, asking ‘Why is copywriting, as in writing copy, one word?
I should point out that my wife was a book editor and worked for many well-known publishers, and things like ‘copywriting’ and ‘copywriter’ jump out at her. A copywriter – a writer of copy. Yes, but how did copywriting come about? Why not copy writing?
This is his book – the one that my wife spotted on my pile of books.
I asked Glenn Fisher, saying ‘My wife and I were talking and she noticed a book on my pile of books and asked a question, which I am putting to you as a person with a wide education who talks about the benefit of reading around a subject.
Can you tell me why the art of copywriting is not the art of copy writing? How did it come to be this one word ‘copywriting’?’
Glenn replied, saying
“The honest answer is I have no idea.
But it’s an interesting question, David.
I assume it’s derived from a piece of writing being know as ‘the copy’ and therefore the person who writes the copy becomes know as the copy writer and it eventually joined to become a noun.
I’m not sure it’s the best description for what we do. It’s almost impossible to describe oneself as a copywriter and expect someone to know what one does.
I often just refer to myself as a writer these days.
Let me know if you get to the bottom of the conundrum.”
I asked Drayton Bird the same question, and he replied:
“I have no idea.
But I do think that the two words could be construed as writing that copies.
Copy-writing, however may work.
Anyhow the word copy goes back to the use of the word copy, used in newspapers.
I didn’t really understand Drayton’s answer, but the last bit reminded me that the word was used / is used? for the piece of text that is going to be used in an article in a newspaper, as in ‘Have that copy on my desk by nine o’ clock tomorrow morning.’
Do you dear reader have an opinion on the subject, or know something of how copywriting as one word came about?