The Telegraph and the OED

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 2 02:30:25 UTC 2010


The Yale Book of Quotations seems to believe that David Barker's 1859 poem about "the under dog in the fight" is the origin of "underdog."  Is the Hudson Chronicle of Wisconsin occurrence that poem?  What database did you get the Hudson Chronicle occurrence from?

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Michael Quinion [wordseditor at]
Sent: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:19 PM
Subject: Re: The Telegraph and the OED

Ben Zimmer wrote:

> To celebrate the OED's new online interface, The Daily Telegraph is
> rather hilariously claiming to have "coined" the 251 words for which
> the OED currently credits it with the first known citation:

I've been having fun with this, too. My current best is taking "underdog"
back from the Daily Telegraph in 1887 to the US in 1859 (in the Hudson
Chronicle of Wisconsin) and I strongly suspect this could easily be
bettered with a little more work. I gave up after antedating three words:
it's just too easy!

Did you notice that the print edition of the Telegraph introduced the word
"lexiconated"? I guess this means "be the first known user of a word that
subsequently appears in a major dictionary". The chances of its becoming
the 252nd word in the list seems slight.

Michael Quinion
Editor, World Wide Words

The American Dialect Society -

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