Category Archives: Lexicography

New Map of Indigenous American Words in English

For some time I’ve been meaning to update my map of pathways into English of  Indigenous American Words, which was based on the Second (1989) Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. With a couple of hours to spare while watching the kids this week, I managed to get around to it, using data from the […]

And we have Coverage!

Here’s the cover of my new book, out in April/May from OUP: Image credit: “Iskandar and the Talking Tree”, from Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (977-1010 CE), Bodleian MS. Ouseley Add.176, fol. 311v.  

More Precisions on Revisions

In the comments to my last post [OED3 Revision Revised for 2020] I posted this chart, in reply to a remark about projected completion: This implies that revision has slowed down somewhat in the last ten years, and even more in the last five. But it was pointed out to me elsewhere that entries per […]

OED3’s Revision Status (c. 2018.12.15)

Most people know that the OED is in the midst of a wholesale revision of legacy OED material dating back in some cases to the 1890s, in addition to the regular updates and additions we hear about in quarterly bulletins. This work started to be published almost 20 years ago, now, and may go on […]

Posting Over at the OED Blog

I’ve written a post for the OED blog, digging into OED data on regional varieties of English: “When Regional Englishes Got Their Words“. Check it out! — there I plot the number and date of all OED first citations pertaining to senses typical of regional Englishes, and take a closer look at the chronology of […]

OED Antedating OED

In 6 years, OED went from a 40% to a 60% antedating rate, a remarkable improvement.You want to know what the biggest antedating has been so far, don’t you? Well, I’ll tell you.

“Bastard” goes legit! (and has some babies of its own)

The June 2019 update to OED3 has many lovely lexicographical additions: the first three listed are ‘ayuh’, ‘bae’, and ‘ball sack’ (if that gives any indication). Twitterati have commented on ‘upper-class twit’ and ‘you (wee) dancer’. But what caught our eye was the adjacent article by senior editor Matthew Bladen on revisions to “bastard, n.” […]

Boathouse Words

Q: What’s the difference between having a SQUIRREL FACE and having a FACE SQUIRREL? A:                      Generally speaking, if you want a word for a MORP that has FUZ, you call it a FUZ-MORP, right? And if there’s a FUZ that gets rid of your MORPS, […]

Insinuendo: OED’s Opinions

The Oxford English Dictionary is rightly regarded as a dispassionate authority on English words, recording without fear or favour as many of those little beasts as it can. But OED editors have not always been above a bit of prescriptive snark. Here is a list of opinions Robert Burchfield, editor of the Second Supplement, decided […]

“Juvescence” and other poetical “Errors”

This morning on the Twitter came this from @nemoloris: OED says “juvescence” is “irregular”, not “erroneous”, but (notorious TSE fan) Robert Burchfield himself called it a malformation (in his Eliot memorial lectures, I believe). Eliot’s defensive letter, sourced by @rngould, is worth keeping in mind: irregular needn’t be erroneous, and sometimes poets are looking to […]