Antedating of "Finalize"

James A. Landau <> JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Tue Feb 5 02:33:46 UTC 2013

On Sunday 3 Feb 2013 21:01:34 "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> wrote:

"Finalize" became a highly controversial word when it was included in
Webster's Third New International Dictionary.  The OED's first use is dated
1922, drawn from unpublished correspondence in the files of the
Merriam-Webster company.  Here's earlier usage:

1893 _Publications of the Modern Language Association_ VIII. 211 (JSTOR)
Goodell admits the former for Greek but denies the latter.  He declares
that the tendency to emphasize by finalizing "prevails in French".

1901 _American Journal of Sociology_ VI. 490 (JSTOR)  It is hardly to be
expected that a final classification of associations can be proposed, for
associations themselves are not finalized.
<end quote>

It is not obvious that either of these citations use "finalize" to mean "put into
final form".  This first one appears to mean put into the final part of a sentence,
or perhaps to emphasize the final syllable of a word.  The second one is unclear.  It
seems to me to be saying that associations cannot be put into a once-and-for-all list,
as old associations disappear before the list can be completed.

     - James A. Landau

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