[Ads-l] "fourth dimension" is not "time" to the OED?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 5 11:50:44 UTC 2015


The "fourth dimension" as 'time' was so familiar to TV viewers by late 1959
that Rod Serling had to insist there was a fifth one.

Physicist George Gamow's popular book _One, Two, Three, Infinity_ (1947)
explained it to me at just about the same time.

JL

On Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 6:48 AM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
wrote:

> The "fourth dimension" as "time" was so familiar to TV viewers by late
> 1959 that Rod Serling had to insist there was a fifth one.
>
> JL
>
> On Sun, Jan 4, 2015 at 7:56 PM, Jeff Prucher <
> 000000b93183dc86-dmarc-request at listserv.uga.edu> wrote:
>
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Jeff Prucher <jprucher at YAHOO.COM>
>>
>> Subject:      Re: "fourth dimension" is not "time" to the OED?
>>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> The OED's definition for "fourth" states that it has not yet been fully
>> updated since 1897; the "fourth dimension" part looks like it was added in
>> OED2, and presumably therefore dates from the Burchfield supplements
>> (1972-86). I don't know why Burchfield omitted the "time" aspect, though.
>> Possibly it wasn't well-established at that time, or not enough for the
>> editors to think it meritted a separate entry, or it was established but
>> they didn't have many citations for it. (I'd vote for the third, but that's
>> just a guess -- I'm pretty sure fourth dimension=time was pretty common in
>> SF by that time.)
>>
>> Jeff Prucher
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Saturday, January 3, 2015 5:03 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at ATT.NET>
>> wrote:
>>
>>
>> >
>> >
>> >---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> >Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> >Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
>> >Subject:      "fourth dimension" is not "time" to the OED?
>>
>> >-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> >
>> >Why does the OED's definition of "fourth dimension (under "fourth")
>> >not include "time"?  The definition there is merely "a supposed or
>> >assumed dimension, additional to length, breadth, and thickness (see
>> >dimension n. 3 note)."  And in the note, the only mention of anything
>> >beyond L, B, and T is "Modern mathematicians have speculated as to
>> >the possibility of more than three dimensions of space."
>> >
>> >Searching for quotations including "fourth dimension", the earliest
>> >referring to time is perhaps "1885   Nature 26 Mar. 481/1   Since
>> >this fourth dimension cannot be introduced into space, as commonly
>> >understood, we require a new kind of space for its existence, which
>> >we may call time-space."  (Well's "The Time Machine" is 1895.)
>> >
>> >Joel
>> >
>> >------------------------------------------------------------
>> >The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>> >
>> >
>> >
>>
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>>
>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>



-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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


More information about the Ads-l mailing list