British bias in the OED :-)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Dec 16 19:10:02 UTC 2012

On Dec 16, 2012, at 12:46 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:

> Under "blue, n." one finds:
> 9. Light blue and dark blue have become the distinctive colours of
> the representatives both of Eton and Harrow Schools, and of Cambridge
> and Oxford Universities, in their rival athletic contests. So the
> 'Dark Blues' denote Oxford men or Harrow boys; 'to win his blue', or
> 'to be a Blue', is to be chosen to represent his University or School
> in rowing, cricket, etc.; 'an old Blue' is one who has rowed or
> played in an inter-University contest.
> I am offended, as I'm sure Larry and Fred will be, by the omission of
> any reference to old and prestigious American universities, both
> founded in the early 18th century -- Yale Blue (a "dark azure") and
> Columbia Blue ("a light blue tertiary color").
Not to be picky, but while Yale, founded in 1701, does indeed date back to the early 18th c. (or even the long 17th), Columbia was founded in 1754, too late to qualify for the early 18th, and hence missing out on the highly prestigious deep blue and having to settle instead for the less desirable babyish blue tint, formally known as the eponymous Columbia blue.  So while *our* superannuated alums are Old Blues, Columbia's can only be Middle-aged Blues.

But yes, we should both definitely be entered at "blue, n."


The American Dialect Society -

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