OED Antedates "Nerd"

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Sun Sep 14 03:40:29 UTC 2003

On Sat, Sep 13, 2003 at 11:06:15PM -0400, Fred Shapiro wrote:
> A noteworthy item in the latest batch of OED revisions is the following
> citation now listed as the first use for the word "nerd":
> a1950 A. KAZIN Jrnl. in Lifetime Burning in Every Moment (1996) II. 92, I
> guess to her I am a nerd, a bookish noodle, not genially at the heart of
> things.
> Since Dr. Seuss' naming of one of his fictional animals as a "nerd"
> occurred in a 1950 book, the Kazin usage most likely kills the theory that
> the slang word derives from Dr. Seuss.

I'm afraid not. This cite should not have appeared, and will be
pulled at the next update.

This edition of Kazin's journals is clearly, on a close inspection,
a later re-editing of journals that he kept at the time; it does
not represent a verbatim transcript of contemporaneous writing.
There are a number of places where clear anachronisms, or later comments
on then-current events, appear in the text with nothing to indicate that
they are not original. Thus the trustworthiness of all of the material
is highly questionable. This cite should have been dated a1996, or
perhaps by HDAS as a1996...[ref. to a1950].

Jesse Sheidlower
Oxford English Dictionary

More information about the Ads-l mailing list