Tag Archives: neologism

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 […]


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 […]

Snowclone Sandwich

“Snowclone” is a word for a kind of transferable, reusable pattern of phrase, such as the original “X have Y words for Z” (on the pattern “Eskimos have fifty-five (or pick your number) words for snow“, so transferable to “The French have no word for entrepreneur“, or whatever), or “X is the new Y” (on […]

“Chickadee” an “Authorism”?

This morning while watching a small horde of black-capped chickadees [a banditry or dissimulation of chickadees, you might say, or just a flock] taking turns at the feeder, a I had a quick look through Paul Dickson’s Authorisms: Words Wrought by Authors. The book is a list of literary neologisms and their attributions. There are […]

Ironic OED quotations

Knee-deep in OED quotation evidence today, I’ve been noting down some ironic entries. Here’s a selected list. Headwords are indicated by bold type. 1905 Daily Chron. 22 Nov. 6/7 There are ‘Australianisms’ enough to make a dictionary an essential for the proper understanding of an Antipodean journal. …not to mention ‘Australianism’ (no doubt an Anglicism)… […]

Hello, baby!

What did people say to babies before the 1820s? Some weeks ago my two-month old daughter began to smile. The internet has this to say about how to encourage babies to do more of that: Smile widely at her and offer a warm “hello” in that sing-song pitch parents do so well. [webmd.com] My wife […]

“Disobstetricate not their enixibility”: OED’s Double Hapaxes

Or, Urquhart’s folly. Here’s a challenge: write a sentence with two never-before-used words in it, and see if the Oxford English Dictionary ever adds both of them to its long list of English words. In “Acrasial Philogamy – Ghost Hapaxes in OED”, I documented some words that are included as headwords in the OED on […]

Acrasial Philogamy – Ghost Hapaxes in OED

Poking around the OED today, I came across this entry, which I’ll reproduce here in full: aˈcrasial, a. rare-1. [f. acrasy + -al1.] Ill-regulated, untempered, intemperate. 1851 S. JUDD Margaret II. xi. 321 (1871) ‘Acrasial Philogamy? Brother Edward, what is that?’ ‘That,’ replied Edward, ‘is an incurable malady to which young persons are subject.’ I […]

Going Live: “The Life of Words”

For over two years, I’ve been posting short posts and articles on topics related to poetry, criticism, lexicography – especially the Oxford English Dictionary – and Digital Humanities, on my research blog, “Poetry & Contingency”. That blog was initially set up to collect thoughts, results, and new research questions generated in the course of a […]