Problem with OED's First Use of "Capitalism"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sat Mar 24 17:16:11 UTC 2012

I don't see any instances of "capitalism" below, only
"capitalist".  The OED has "capitalist" from 1774; it is "capitalism"
that it has (possibly erroneously) dated to 1816.

(The first search below was I think not enclosed in quotes, or if it
was Google Books search removed them.  It is tricky to get GBooks to
search for a quoted word or phrase with a date specified.  I find
that it alleges 1,740 hits for "capitalism" up to 1816, but on the
first page all are falsely dated and I refuse to go further.)


At 3/24/2012 08:31 AM, James A. Landau <JJJRLandau at> wrote:

>from Google Books:
>Niles Weekly Register ---Saturday, July 22, 1815
>page 365, column 1, starting 15 lines from bottom
>"Antwerp, May 10---This city is in the utmost distress.---Failures
>are universal.  The most solid houses are trembling, and names
>hitherto respectable throughtout Europe,are falling entirely---the
>great capitalists are ruined by the depreciation of the bank paper
>of Vienna, Russia, Sweden, &c.  Thus our city,lately so
>flourishing,offers now only the spectacle of misery and wretchedness"
>An Introduction to the Sudy of Political Economy, or Elementary View
>of the Manner In Which the Wealth of Nations Is Produced, Increased,
>Distributed, and Consumed.  By D. Boileau.  London: Printed for T.
>Cadell and W. Davies, in the Strand, 1811.
>21 citations in the text, e.g. page 370 "Idle capitalists could not
>be met with in a country that had reached the highest possible pitch
>of prosperity, for if a capitalist lives on the mere interest of his
>money, there must be some individuals indebted to him <snip>"
>      - James A. Landau
>Netscape.  Just the Net You Need.
>The American Dialect Society -

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