[Ads-l] Query on Coinage of "Radar"

MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY CCDC AVMC (USA) 0000099bab68be9a-dmarc-request at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
Fri Jan 29 21:04:05 UTC 2021

I was able to access the NRL report from DTIC (Defense Technical Information Center).  The Google Books scan linked by Garson is better by far than the one at DTIC.

I'd point out, though, that the 1940 letter does not contain the acronym "Radar" (unless it is buried in the unreadable garbled material).  It shows up in the handwritten 1943 note at top, but the letter itself contains only the acronymed (?) phrase "Radio Detection and Ranging".  I would think that it is strong evidence that the term "Radar" was in contemporaneous use, but the letter itself does not antedate the OED entry, except maybe as a bracketed citation.

That being the case, I can provide a slight antedating of the OED.  The following was a report archived at DTIC under their control # ADA953078.

"Report on Jamming and Counter-jamming Measures."
Special Report Section IV August 14, 1941
Massachusetts Inst. Tech.
Radiation Lab
p. 1

"The following is an attempt to set down in systematic form the ideas which have been discussed around the laboratory concerning possible means of jamming Radar systems and counter-measures for these."

Re: Garson's comments on 18 Nov/19 Nov.  My interpretation is that the 19 Nov date in the descriptive material is incorrect.  Within DoD (or, War Department), the official date of a letter like this is the stamped date.

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Friday, January 29, 2021 1:18 PM
Subject: [Non-DoD Source] Re: Query on Coinage of "Radar"


Comment about the date of the document: Below the Navy Department
header there is a date stamp which says "NOV 18 1940"; however, the
description below the document says the letter is "dated 19 Nov.
1940". So there may be another date on the document that is not
visible in the reproduction. Alternatively, the November 19 date is

On Fri, Jan 29, 2021 at 2:01 PM ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> Fred Shapiro, Fred wrote:
> >
> > This is a terrific response to my query, Stephen.  But I am struggling
> > to formulate a citation for the acronym usage in this document.
> > Where does the dating appear?  Is this reprinted anywhere?
> > The sentence toward the bottom where the acronym seems to
> > appear is largely unreadable -- is there a better copy or a transcription
> > of this letter anywhere?
> Great work, Stephen.
> Below is a Google Books link to a page within a report from the Naval
> Research Laboratory. The page reproduces the letter from November 19,
> 1940 signed by H. R. Stark.
> The bad news is that the digital reproduction of the reproduction is
> terrible. (Maybe someone can directly access the NRL report.) The good
> news is that the description below the reproduction contains the
> relevant information, i.e., the date and author. Further, the report
> can be cited. (Double check for typos and other errors.)
> Year: 1979
> Report Number: NRL Report 8300
> Title: Evolution of Naval Radio-Electronics and Contributions of the
> Naval Research Laboratory
> Author: Louis A. Gebhard
> Organization: Naval Research Laboratory, Washington D.C.
> Publisher: U.S. Government Printing Office
> Quote Page 170
> https://books.google.com/books?id=hogeAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA170&
> [Begin excerpt]
> The word "radar" was coined from "radio detection and ranging" one of
> the titles used by NRL for this field of work, by LCDR F.R. Furth and
> LCDR S.M. Tucker, who shared in responsibility for the Navy's original
> procurement program. LCDR Furth (later RADM Furth) and LCDR Tucker
> (later RADM Tucker), while on duty at the Navy Department, devised the
> acronym and took action to put it into effect. The above letter, dated
> 19 Nov. 1940, signed by ADM H.R. Stark, then the Chief of Naval
> Operations, made the word official.
> [End excerpt]
> Garson
> > ________________________________
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> > Sent: Friday, January 29, 2021 10:40 AM
> > Subject: Re: Query on Coinage of "Radar"
> >
> > 18 November 1940
> > serial 069120
> >
> > SG
> >
> > ________________________________
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU>
> > Sent: Friday, January 29, 2021 10:32 AM
> > Subject: Re: Query on Coinage of "Radar"
> >
> > Stack--Stark
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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