Antedating of "Unemployment"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Jan 17 14:37:25 UTC 2005

This is a word whose history has been much written about, including by
E. P. Thompson in The Making of the English Working Class (Thompson
said he had seen it used in the 1830s, but gave no citations).  I
remember Geoffrey Nunberg was interested in it a while back.

unemployment (OED 1888)

1717 _The Censor_ (ed. 2) 191 (Eighteenth Century Collections Online)
When I look forwards, and anticipate in Thought the Prospect of those
burning Months ... when the _Female Shopkeepers_ will be the only
Beauties left us; when scarce a _powder'd Perriwig_ will be seen in
the Evening from a _Coffeehouse-Balcony_, and I may lay all Day on the
Solitary Board buried in Dust and Obscurity, and owe a Perusal only to
the Unemployment of the indolent _Waiters_.

Fred Shapiro

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