antedating of 'ish'?

Lynne Murphy m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK
Fri Sep 7 16:49:14 UTC 2007

My colleague Max Wheeler left the following comment on my blog's current
post (about

' "The Anerican Mercury" vol 64, Jan-June, 1947, p. 184 contains the
'The British frequently add "ish" to many words as in "Come at five-ish" or
"The dinner was good-ish." They even say "The movie was ish."'

I don't believe Brits in 1947 said "the movie was" anything. Still, it's an
antedating if OED wants one. Thanks to Google books.'

This is 39 years before the first OED citation for lexical 'ish'--though
this meaning seems to be adjectival--and is it accurate?  It sounds a bit
dodgy to me.  Like the OED, I tend to hear lexical 'ish' used as an adverb.


Dr M Lynne Murphy
Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language
Arts B135
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QN

phone: +44-(0)1273-678844

The American Dialect Society -

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