Another example of the value of the OED to public intellectuals

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Sep 18 02:51:02 UTC 2013

Website: The Chronicle Review
Article: The New Economy of Letters

[Begin excerpt]
A quarter century has passed since Russell Jacoby coined the term
"public intellectuals" in a book meant to mark their extinction. In
The Last Intellectuals: American Culture in the Age of Academe,
published in 1987, Jacoby defined public intellectuals as "writers and
thinkers who address a general and educated audience." The term was
new, he explained, but there had been public intellectuals for
centuries: "The greatest minds from Galileo to Freud have not been
content with private discoveries; they sought, and found, a public."
Since the 1960s, their numbers, never high, had been plummeting. Lewis
Mumford and Edmund Wilson were born in 1895, Walter Lippmann in 1889.
[End excerpt]

The Oxford English Dictionary has a citation in 1967.

[Begin excerpt]
public intellectual   n. an intellectual who expresses views (esp. on
popular topics) intended to be accessible to a general audience.

1967   N.Y. Times 15 Sept. 45/1   Fashion editors, artists, certain
politicians, film people, public intellectuals, culture mongers,

2001   New Republic 29 Jan. 36/2   He was familiar on television and
radio, the paradigm of the vaguely left-wing London liberal and public
[End excerpt]

Apparently the term "public intellectual" was not coined in 1987. This
post is not intended to be critical of the article author. This post
is meant to praise the OED, and its hard working editors.

The American Dialect Society -

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