Tag Archives: neologism

The Lifespan of Words (three ways)

Getting ready for DH2017 this morning, I found myself curious about the lifespan of English words–when they come into the language and when they fall out. So I got all the earliest and latest attestation dates for all the words in OED3, and plotted them out. Here are three graphs (“visualizations,” if you like), all […]

||-Tripping over tramlines-||

“Tramlines”, icydk, are those upright parallel bars that OED1 and OED2 editors used to indicate that a word was “alien or not fully naturalized”. So, for instance, zeitgeist you may recognize as a word of German origin, not infrequently heard in English. In OED1 (1928) it appeared as ||Zeitgeist, and this mark was preserved on […]

Untrustable Assertions

Listening to the NPR today, I hear this from E. J. Dionne, commenting on GOP Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s astounding statements about the civic accomplishments of the Republican House: [Dionne] We’re going to have a lot of fun with him in terms of the English language. In that recent statement he invented the word “untrustable”. He […]

Thermo Pairs, a kind of poem

Latest in the “kind of poem” series [see here and here], this one based on false positives that turned up in my list of invented lexical combinations in James Joyce [“Compounding Joyce“].

Compounding Joyce

LOW on demand! This afternoon the Twitter threw up this query, following on from my last post on cutthroat compounds [Catchall for Cutthroats]: Well, here at The Life of Words, we aim to please. Since I’ve been mucking around with Python scripts to get at OED’s combinational formations (those bits typically at the end of […]

Plural Fixation

Or, “How not to be a pedant with the OED.” I like a good hatchet job. Done well, the literary smack-down is thrilling and educative. Terry Eagleton on Richard Dawkins [“Lunging, flailing, mispunching”, LRB, 19.10.06] is among my favourite examples of the dark art: characterizing Dawkins’s idea of the Christian god as “some kind of […]

Subsequent OED Quotations

You sometimes hear that Shakespeare contributed more words to the English language than anyone else. This claim is based on searches of the quotation evidence in the 2nd edition of the OED. In OED2, Shakespeare is the most-cited single-author source [33,131 quotations], and the most first-cited source in an entry [first evidence for 2,017 words], […]

“Pneumatic Bliss” – Eliot’s Breasty OED Entry

More from the T. S. Eliot / Oxford English Dictionary files [for background, see “Did TSE use OED, SOED, or COD?” and “Eliotic OED“]. In the latter post, I noted that 0.0135% of OED definitions contain the phrase “[with/in] allusion to” and that two of these are to poems by Eliot. Here are lines from […]

Eliotic OED

[UPDATE 9/15: If what follows interests you at all please see this update: “Two Notes on T. S. Eliot and the OED“] OED editor Robert Burchfield was responsible for adding Woolfian, Poundian, Joycean, Yeatsian, and Audenesque to the dictionary while preparing the Supplement of 1976-86 (later incorporated into the Second Edition, OED2). There’s no Eliotesque or […]

Misunderweared

A song from my early youth came back to me the other day. Here’s the first verse, with a rough translation in italics: Le bon roi Dagobert                       Good King Dagobert A mis sa culotte à l’envers ;           Put on his culotte backwards ; Le grand saint Éloi                         The great Saint Eligius Lui dit : Ô […]