Word Nerds Rejoice! The Oxford English Dictionary Needs You

Photo of the Oxford English DictionaryThe Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has a long history of asking the public for help in defining and pinpointing origins of words. In Simon Winchester’s “The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary,” we learn about the OED editor’s original call for volunteers to help define every subtle shade of meaning for more than 400,000 words. These volunteers submitted quotations and their sources to illustrate words’ proper uses. More than 10,000 of these submissions came from a single man, a genius Civil War doctor committed to an asylum after murdering a man and being declared insane.

This October the OED announced another call for assistance (and you don’t need to be insane or a genius to pitch in). OED Appeals is a dedicated community space on the OED website where editors are soliciting help uncovering new information about the history and usage of English, including the earliest examples of particular words. What words? Cooties. Bellini. Bimble. Disco. And many more listed on the OED Appeals website. You can even subscribe by RSS feed to be alerted of new appeals, or follow the OED on Twitter for the latest requests for help.

Check out these books in our collection to learn more about the OED.

 

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Mama, book maven, geek. Now reading "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt.
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