[Ads-l] "Oxford secret" origin?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Aug 21 19:52:53 UTC 2019

Interesting topic, SG. Excellent match, DanG. Here are some details
for the match together with a link to HathiTrust. I do not see much
evidence that the phrase "Oxford secret" is being used with the
desired sense in the text below.

Date: March 7, 1912
Periodical: The Oxford Magazine
Article: Notes and News
Quote Page 252
Publisher and Printer: Published for the Oxford Magazine Co. Limited
by Horace Hart, Printer to the University


[Begin excerpt]
His main objection, however, was to the disclosure of College secrets,
and he denounced as horrible the publishing of matters which should be
the subject of private negotiation.
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
For some little time there have been whispers that important reforms
were contemplated in the Theological Faculty. But as the secret (in
the first instance an Oxford secret) has been divulged at Cambridge to
the press, we may confirm the truth of the rumours. Reforms of an
interesting and far-reaching kind are likely to be introduced soon,
prompted and outlined by the Professors and the other members of the
faculty. The principles of the changes are two: viz. (1) that the
University can no longer undertake to act on behalf of the Church of
England in the character of its official representative ; and (2) that
as there are at present a number of its students who are not members
of the Church of England, but who can, nevertheless, justly claim
access to its highest degrees, such restrictions as exist should be
removed, and it should be clearly understood that the examinations and
degrees are only tests of knowledge and are entirely independent of
membership in any particular religious body.
[End excerpt]


On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 2:17 PM Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> wrote:
> Google has a snippet from The Oxford Magazine, Vol. 30, which looks
> like it is 1912, and which implies the phrase already exists, since it
> refers to the first instance of an Oxford secret.
> DanG
> On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 7:34 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:
> >
> >  An article on the discovery of papyrus fragments of poetry by Sappho in the Feb. 5, 2014 TLS by Dirk Obbink begins as follows:
> > "An 'Oxford secret' is supposed to be a secret you tell one person at a time. Add social media and it's across the world within hours, often in garbled form. In this case the 'secret' was the discovery of a fragment of papyrus...."
> > The Sappho discovery is real but the provenance is less clear. I wondered about the origin of the collocation "Oxford secret."
> > Provisionally, it *may* have been coined, or popularized, by Oliver Franks (1905-1992), Oxford philosopher, and Secretary of Supply during WWII, and Ambassador to the US, and diplomat involved in birth of the Marshall Plan, and also of NATO,** among other things. Remarkable man.
> >
> > Stephen Goranson
> > http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
> > **My Dad (in the USN) was assigned as an assistant to Averell Harriman at the time.
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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