Moot Court (1788?)

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Oct 28 17:03:37 UTC 2002

On Mon, 28 Oct 2002, Jesse Sheidlower wrote:

> On Sun, Oct 27, 2002 at 10:59:26PM -0500, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
> > OED's entry is dreadful.  The first entry is allegedly by
> >Thomas Jefferson from 1788, but it's cited from a book
> >published about 70 years later.

It is common for the OED to cite standard editions of older authors, which
may have been published much later than the original texts.  The
alternative for something like a Jefferson letter would be verifying such
quotes in manuscript collections around the world, which clearly is
impracticable (people who publish reference works have to think of
practicability, without which reference works would never be published).
One of the great things about the OED is that if they take a quotation
from a later edition they will cite it precisely to the later edition, as
opposed to most people who take quotations from later editions but don't
tell you so.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE DICTIONARY OF QUOTATIONS
  Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press,
Yale Law School                             forthcoming
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

More information about the Ads-l mailing list