ILL, the verb

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 2 01:29:06 UTC 2013

Damien Hall wrote
> Date: Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 6:43 AM
> I'm sure the point has already been made (or at least
> appreciated off-list), but: I'm not sure that the early cites
> given here for the verb 'ILL' (_sic_) are really cites of what
> was first looked for.  If I recall correctly, the quotation that
> sparked the thread was written as 'ill', definitely suggesting
> that it was pronounced like the word that means 'sick'.  By
> contrast, all the early cites given in this thread write 'ILL' in
> capital letters: so we don't know, I think, whether the users
> would have spelt the abbreviation out or pronounced it as
> a single syllable.

Further below is the message from Joel that I think started the
thread. His example uses ILL in capital letters. Nevertheless pointing
out the distinction between "ILL" and "ill" is worthwhile I think.

Thanks to Hugo who posted several great Usenet citations for the verb
ILL.  Garson

On Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 11:33 PM, Joel S. Berson
> Subject: ILL, the verb
> This must be old, but a first glance tells me it will be difficult to
> tease out from various unrelated instances.  Including being mistaken
> for "fill it (in/out)".  Not found under OED's "ill, v.", not surprisingly.
> "You'll have to ILL it: You can't get a copy, I've tried."
> Email message, today.

On Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 7:10 AM, Hugo <hugovk at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Hugo <hugovk at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: ILL, the verb
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> A couple more from Usenet.
>  Cthulhu's Jersey Epopt, July 27 1990, rec.arts.sf-lovers:
> "Unfortunately for memory, I now live some 60 miles from the library I
> first borrowed SPHERELAND from. *  Even if they still had the book, I
> couldn't get at it easily.  And it's not worth the effort to ILL the thing
> from somewhere else."
> Marty Rosen, December 25 1991, bit.listserv.words-l:
> "I'm reasonably sure the paper is only of peripheral interest to real
> economists, but it's quite interesting to me, and I want to see it.  I
> could ILL it, if I had a real citation."
> Cheers,
> Hugo
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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