[Ads-l] Antedating of "Field Work" (OED sense 4)

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Jun 29 19:50:22 EDT 2021

field work (OED, 4., 1887)

Then in the mid-1860s you start seeing geologists using the term “field-work” in the familiar modern sense. For instance, here’s Bigby (1867 Proc Roy Soc Lond 15:372-385<http://www.jstor.org/stable/112654>), introducing his “general view of Silurian life”:

I have been further encouraged by the great accumulations of the last few years, through the establishment in North America and elsewhere of numerous colleges, each of them having become the centre of more or less field-work.

And from there, you soon see the term cropping up in other disciplines. For instance, here’s the first use of the term in Am Nat, in 1870, in a review of a guidebook for naturalists:

Mr. Maynard writes of what he himself knows…His notes of the proper times and places to look for birds – of the pleasures and difficulties of taking them – and his pictures of field-work, are true to the life.

Fred Shapiro

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

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