I went to see the play Mr Foote’s Other Leg in the West End the other evening, and very funny it was too. Samuel Foote was an 18th-century actor and theatre manager. He is credited with having coined the word panjandrum in 1754 or 1755, as the OED explains, “as part of a farrago of nonsense […] to test the memory of his fellow actor Charles Macklin, who had asserted that he could repeat anything after hearing it once”. That “farrago of nonsense” was the following paragraph (taken from Collins Dictionary of Quotations):
So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage-leaf, to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. ‘What! No soap?’ So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyalies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top, and they all fell to playing the game of catch as catch can, till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.
Despite this paragraph purportedly having been written in the 1750s, the first written record of the ‘Panjandrum’ sentence is from a Maria Edgeworth work of 1825. Panjandrum is defined in the OED as “(A mock title for) a mysterious (freq. imaginary) personage of great power or authority; a pompous or pretentious official; a self-important person in authority”.
The Oxford English Dictionary entries for a few French words reference Samuel Foote. These include petite bourgeoise, which has its own entry in the Dictionary, defined as “A woman of the lower-middle classes of society”. Foote used the phrases pauvre petite bourgeoise and jolie petite bourgeoise. The first citation for beacoup, many, a word which the OED describes as ‘rare before the First World War’ is from Foote’s 1760 comedy The Minor; the first written mention of jeune fille is also attributed to Foote; and the first citation for parleyvoo, a humorous term for the French language, especially as spoken by the English, is from Foote’s The Knights. These days the French personal pronoun moi is often used humorously, and Foote was using the word in this sense in the mid-18th century: the first citation for moi is also from The Minor:
Sir George: What d'you mean? For me to marry Margery?
Richard Wealthy: I do.
Sir George: What, moi—me?
Other first citations attributed to Foote are: cocky-leeky (the soup), the exclamation gosh, the noun lie-abed, and the adjective rumbustious.