Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Thu May 23 02:13:41 UTC 2013

On Wed, May 22, 2013 at 06:16:05PM +0000, Steve Richardson wrote:
>         Almost twelve years ago I submitted to the OED an antedating
> for "bowie knife." They have its first use attributed to Charles
> Dickens in 1842. Really? --a British writer made use of this
> exclusively American tool/weapon before any scribe on the American
> continents? I had run across Edgar Allan Poe's use of it in his only
> novella, the Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym, published 1838.
> Subsequently,(now about six years ago)with access to the ProQuest
> Historical newspapers and American Periodical Series I find dozens of
> uses beginning in the year of Jim Bowie's death at the Alamo in 1836.
> So I tried to press my luck with the OED folks again and submit an
> antedating proposal. It's been over six years and they still proudly
> acknowledge first use from the pen of Dickens. Oddly they still
> solicit antedatings on their site.

Just to repeat, more officially, what others have said: OED generally
only adds antedatings when we revise entries, and we revise entries
according to a schedule, not according to the availability of an
antedating. Most of the dictionary is still unrevised, so in some cases
we have antedatings that have been in the files for a century, waiting
their time to go in. If you sent in early examples of _Bowie knife_, you
can be certain that they are in the files, and will be examined in due
course. We appreciate your contributions, and the delay in incorporating
them is in no way a comment on their value.

Jesse Sheidlower
Editor at Large
Oxford English Dictionary

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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