[Ads-l] Antedating of "Statistical" (OED Sense 4)

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sun Nov 13 13:59:13 UTC 2022

statistical (OED, 4., 1885)

According to Wikipedia, "According to Gibbs, the term 'statistical', in the context of mechanics, i.e. statistical mechanics, was first used by the Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Clerk_Maxwell> in 1871. From: J. Clerk Maxwell, Theory of Heat (London, England: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1871), p. 309<https://books.google.com/books?id=DqAAAAAAMAAJ&pg=PA309>: 'In dealing with masses of matter, while we do not perceive the individual molecules, we are compelled to adopt what I have described as the statistical method of calculation, and to abandon the strict dynamical method, in which we follow every motion by the calculus.'"

Fred Shapiro

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

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