Antedating of "Physicist"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 17 18:53:44 UTC 2003

On Tue, 11 Nov 2003, Fred Shapiro wrote:

> The most important scientific word-coinages of the 19th century were
> William Whewell's coinages of _scientist_ (1834) and _physicist_ (1840).
> It now appears that Whewell did not in fact coin the latter word.  A
> search on the Science Direct database yields the following:
> 1838 tr. M. V. Regnault in _Jrnl. Franklin Inst._ July 31  A great number
> of physicists have employed themselves during the last century, in the
> examination of the specific heats of elastic fluids.

I now see that this "antedating" was erroneous, because of a misdating on
the Science Direct database.  The citation above should in fact be dated

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     

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