antedating of "hoax"

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Wed May 19 18:19:51 UTC 2004

The OED (print version) has 1808 for Hoax.

The paragraph of the Foot-Race in Saturday's Gazette, was sent to us by Samuel P. Adriance -- it was no HOAX of ours.
N-Y Gazette & General Advertiser, March 23, 1807, p. 2, col. 4.  This is referring to the following announcement:
SPORTSMEN! [a largely illegible announcement of a footrace in the Park, 150 yards distance, $10 entrance fee, $250 purse]  N-Y Gazette & General Advertiser, March 21, 1807, p. 3, col. 1

This is not much of an antedating, but "hoax" is a neat word, and this suggests that the word is even older than what has been found, since it is presumably of English origin.  The OED's 1808 source is English, and Limeys in those years were not in the habit of picking up slang expressions from their former colonies; no doubt the editor of the Gazette was showing off his sophisticated knowledge of a cool new Britishism.


George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998.

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