[Ads-l] "sleuthery," 1902

Geoffrey Nunberg nunbergg at GMAIL.COM
Tue Dec 27 20:15:08 EST 2016

No dictionary has this, as best I can tell, but it’s out there — ca 400 (actual) Google hits and well attested in Gbooks going back to 1902:

"There is no philologic sleuthery cunning enough to trace all the mysterious survivals of our speech, but the day is near when men will know much more about the English language than is known now."  Leon Mead, Word-coinage: Being an Inquiry Into Recent Neologisms, Also a Brief Study of Literary Style, Slang, and Provincialisms

This is particularly curious because John Simpson’s excellent recent memoir of his years at the OED is called Word Sleuth — and “philologic sleuthery” is of course the activity to which this list is partly consecrated.

Further sleuthery will no doubt turn up earlier instances.


Geoffrey Nunberg
School of Information
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley CA 94720
ph. 510-643-3894
nunberg at ischool.berkeley.edu

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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