Antedating of "Bowie Knife"

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 23 03:13:10 UTC 2013

Thanks Steve, Fred, and Jesse. Barry Popik contacted me to let me know
about the valuable data on "Bowie knife" available on his website. He
has an excellent citation for the plural "Bowie Knives" in 1830 plus
additional information:

[Begin excerpt]
24 December 1830, Daily National Intelligencer (Washington D.C.), pg.
2, col. 6 ad: Bowie Knives, of superior quality and finish, at $5
each. [ad appears in subsequent editions through Jan. 1831—ed.]
[End excerpt]

Updating the OED is a monumental task and delays in incorporating new
material are unavoidable, I think. With the regular appearance of
antedatings on this list it makes sense to also note that the team of
editors are doing a magnificent praiseworthy job.

On Wed, May 22, 2013 at 10:18 PM, Jesse Sheidlower <jester at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Antedating of "Bowie Knife"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Wed, May 22, 2013 at 08:14:36PM +0000, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>> bowie knife (OED 1842)
>> 1835 _Richmond Whig_ 21 Aug. 4 (America's Historical Newspapers)  Before he had time to draw his pistol, I seized him and Fisher drew from his, C's pockets, a pistol, dirk and large Bowie knife.
> Note also that the 1933 Supplement included 1836 and 1838 examples of
> this term, so in fact we've had pre-Dickens examples in published OED
> text for 80 years. It's not clear why these weren't incorporated into
> OED2 in 1989, and one can be forgiven for not checking the '33
> Supplement.
> Jesse Sheidlower
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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