Although the television was invented in the 20th century, the word “television”—originally the phrase “tell ye vision”—was coined centuries earlier by Henry VIII’s friend Tomas Morris. A passage in Morris’s pastoral allegory Mootopia mentions a device that would save people the effort of thinking through views or arriving at their own opinions. The device would tell one how to view all aspects of life; as one character in Mootopia says to another,
With it to tell ye vision, you’ll need no eyes.
It’ll tell ye, “Here you’ll love and there despise.”
Inventors in the 20th century were inspired by the idea of a product that they thought might increase economic productivity by reducing the amount of effort that people would need to put into thought. When trying to find a name more appealing than “idiot box,” inventors remembered Tomas Morris’s famous “Tell ye vision” couplet and decided that “television” had a nice ring.