OED etym. of ((we)b)log

Mark Mandel thnidu at GMAIL.COM
Thu Jan 22 23:19:00 UTC 2009

OED defines BLOG as equivalent to and derived from WEBLOG, which it defines as
    1. A file storing a detailed record of requests handled (and
sometimes also errors generated) by a web server.

    2. A frequently updated web site consisting of personal
observations, excerpts from other sources, etc., typically run by a
single person, and usually with hyperlinks to other sites; an online
journal or diary.

The etymology of WEBLOG:
     < WEB n. + LOG n.1 Compare later BLOG n.

And as to why WEB n. + LOG has such a sense, under LOG n.1, we find
    I. gen.
    1. a. A bulky mass of wood; now usually an unhewn portion of a
felled tree, or a length cut off for use as firewood. in the log: in
an unhewn condition.

    b. fig. and in similative phrases. Said, e.g., of a vessel
floating helplessly (cf. mod.G. log sein to float helplessly), of an
inert or helpless person. a log in one's way: a stumbling-block,
obstacle. to have a log to roll: see LOG-ROLLING. as easy (or simple)
as falling (or rolling) off a log.

    c. Mining. (See quot.)

    d. See quot. (perh. confused with LUG). Obs.

    e. Phr. to hang upon the log: ? to be slow in finding sale. Obs.

    f. In Old St. Paul's, a block or bench on which serving-men sat. Obs.

    g. Surfing. (See quots.)

    2. a. A heavy piece of wood, fastened to a man's or beast's leg,
to impede his movements. Also fig.

    b. A military punishment now abolished. (See quots.) Obs. exc. Hist.

    3. King Log: the log which Jupiter in the fable made king over the
frogs; often used as the type of inertness on the part of rulers, as
contrasted with the excess of activity typified by 'King Stork'.

    4. pl. Austral. slang. A gaol or lock-up. (Formerly built of logs.
Cf. log-house.)

    5. A piece of quarried slate before it is split into layers.

    II. Naut. and derived senses.

    6. An apparatus for ascertaining the rate of a ship's motion,
consisting of a thin quadrant of wood, loaded so as to float upright
in the water, and fastened to a line wound on a reel. Hence in phrases
to heave, throw the log, (to sail or calculate one's way) by the log.
Said also of other appliances having the same object.

    7. a. Short for LOG-BOOK. A journal into which the contents of the
log-board or log-slate are daily transcribed, together with any other
circumstance deserving notice.

    b. (See quot.)

    c. = LOG-BOOK 3.

    d. Any record in which facts about the progress or performance of
something are entered in the order in which they become known; e.g.
(a) a record of what is found, or how some property varies, at
successive depths in drilling a well; a graph or chart displaying this
information;    (b) a record kept by a lorry driver in which details
of journeys are noted;    (c) a record kept of what is broadcast by a
radio or television station from moment to moment.

    8. Tailoring. [transf. from 7] A document fixing the time to be
credited to journeymen (who are paid nominally by the hour) for making
each description of garment; the scale of computation embodied in this

Would not a more specific reference -- e.g., to LOG, n.1, sense II.7.d
-- be more useful?

Mark Mandel

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

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