Antedating of "Political Correctness"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Jul 21 19:09:59 UTC 2006

At 2:55 PM -0400 7/21/06, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>At 7/21/2006 12:02 PM, you wrote:
>>political correctness (OED 1979)
>>1805 _The Witness_ (Litchfield, Conn.) 25 Sept. 3 (America's Historical
>>Newspapers)  The constitution presumes that the people are the judges of
>>political correctness, and has accordingly left the decision to them.
>>Fred Shapiro
>Isn't this more a literal use of "correctness" -- here perhaps
>meaning "correct actions by politicians" -- than the "advocacy of or
>conformity to politically correct views; politically correct language
>or behaviour" of the OED?  Or does "politically correct behavior"
>encompass the 1805 use?  Or does the OED need to separate mingled senses?
Agreed, this isn't the current use but a more general one.  But that
reminds me:  my "whatever" post seems to have fallen on deaf ears, or
keyboards.  Does everyone accept that the holophrastic "whatever"
from "Shadow of the Thin Man" (1941) was in fact an antedate of the
new OED draft entry, or are there earlier cites that I've missed?


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