antedating "hobbit"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sun Feb 3 15:27:36 UTC 2013

But it has been written up by OED editors in a book about Tolkien and the OED.

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Jonathan Lighter [wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Sunday, February 03, 2013 10:14 AM
Subject: antedating "hobbit"

This ex. was noticed by the English folklorist Katherine Briggs in the '70s
... but hasn't yet made it to OED:

1846-1859 M. A. Denham _The Denham Tracts_   II (London: David
Nutt/Folklore Society, 1895) 79: Seventy or eighty years ago...the whole
earth was so overrun with ghosts, boggles, ...brownies, black dogs,
bugbears, shellycoats,,...melch-dicks, ...swarths, freits,
...hobbits, hobgoblins,...leprechauns, [etc.] that there was not a village
in England that had not its own peculiar ghost.

Denham's list goes on for several pages.  Either Denham or more likely his
editor, J. Hardy,  refers the reader further  to the   "Lit. Gaz. for
December 1848, p. 849."  I have had no success in locating this, nor do I
know how relevant it is to "hobbit."


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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