"motoring" and other "obsolescent" words

Erin McKean editor at VERBATIMMAG.COM
Fri Apr 26 21:20:19 UTC 2002

There's also

Dunces, Gourmands and Petticoats: 1,300 Words Whose Meanings Have
Changed Through the Ages, by Adrian Room.

I've ordered it but not read it yet. I'm sure it's around here
somewhere. </scanning office floor>


>Don't know of their scholarly significance but here's what's on our shelves
>for "old" or "obsolescent" words.
>Forgotten English, Jeffrey Kacirk. New York: William & Morrow, 1997
>Lost Beauties of the English Language, Charles Mackay. London: Bibliophile,
>Dictionary of Archaic Words, James Orchard Halliwell. London: Bracken
>Books, 1989 (Originally published 1850 by John Russell Smith, London.) That
>one should be interesting.
>Kathleen E. Miller
>Research Assistant to William Safire
>The New York Times
>At 12:19 PM 4/26/02 -0400, you wrote:
>>In a message dated Fri, 26 Apr 2002 10:56:48 AM Eastern Daylight Time,
>>James Kossuth <jkossuth at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM> writes:
>>>Can anyone suggest a good book on the subject
>>>of words that have been supplanted by others?
>>>I'm looking for something that chronicles the
>>>changes in word use over time, esp. in the US,
>>>e.g., "motoring" replaced by "driving."
>>>Thanks for any leads,
>>Here's a thought:  go into any decent bookstore and leaf through the
>>paperbacks of individual Shakespeare plays.  You will find them full of
>>footnotes, most of which are there to explain words which have either
>>dropped out of English use or which have changed their meanings.
>>Many editors have composed such footnotes.  Wouldn't at least one have
>>decided to go whole hog and publish a reference book on how to footnote
>>Elizabethan writers for 20th/21st Century audiences?
>>If you can't find such reference works via the Web, you might contact the
>>Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.  The Folger is the USA's
>>best-known, if not the best, center for the _textual_ (as opposed to
>>literary) study of Shakespeare, and I presume other Elizabethan/Jacobean
>>writers as well, including the group that produced the "King James" Bible.
>>In a message dated Thu, 25 Apr 2002  7:10:02 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
>>Wendalyn Nichols <wendalyn at NYC.RR.COM> writes:
>>>'Obsolescent' is indeed the term, although few dictionaries make such nice
>>>distinctions in their labeling--I suspect because it's easier to wait until
>>>there's a consensus on a term being obsolete than it is to agree about its
>>>relative obsolescence.
>>Interesting: a rather archaic use of the word "nice".
>>     - James A. Landau
>>"The word "obsolescent" is itself obsolescent."  - Rachel Landau

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