Database searches on "picayune"?

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Feb 29 16:53:35 UTC 2000

On Tue, 29 Feb 2000, Kathleen Miller wrote:

> There were 270 hits in MOA, the earliest two being 1842 - one in Currency
> and Exchanges refering to money and the other in The Newspapers and
> Periodical Press refering to a newspaper so named.

Actually, the earliest occurrence in Making of America is the following:

1838 _U.S. Democratic Review_ IV. 114  The committee was assailed ... for
such "picayune legislation" -- such petty and contemptible applications to
the great evils of the times.

This is only one year later than the earliest citation for the adjective
in the OED.

> Dow Jones Databse has 571,469 hits - the earliest being a NY Times abstract
> from 1969 refering to the New Orleans newspaper. Half a million hits would
> be too much to search through for locality and frequency.

If the half a million hits were searched for locality, the results would
be overwhelmingly New Orleans, since the vast majority of these hits are
obviously mentions of the newspaper name.

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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