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With the new week, we'll start a new theme. (We'll abandon the previous, incomplete 'stupidity' theme, but will perhaps parcel out 'stupidity' words will as occasional bonuses this month.)

What is our new theme? Ah, that will be revealed later. Suffice it to say that all the words will be such rare oddballs that I will not try to find quotations.

epulose – feasting to excess
 
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La Grand Bouffe?
 
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One of seven deadly sins... gluttony?
 
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Nice guesses, but no. Continuing:

queme – to slip in, to put in privately (e.g., to queme a thing into one's hand)

[Note: the term has other meanings, not mentioned here.]
 
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Pleasure?


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I agree with Arnie - sounds like a great week!


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"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
 
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I think the theme could be pick pocketing Confused
 
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Politics? (You know, luxurious excesses, backhanders, etc).

Cat the cynic

Hello Purdie, by the way - love your picture! Smile
 
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Yes, Purdie, welcome to wordcraft! Smile Big Grin Wink Cool We always love new people here!

I have no idea what the theme is, but it looks like a fun one to me!
 
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nexility – pithiness, compactness of speech
 
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Still sounds like politics Smile.
 
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Today's word, spermologist, is not what you might think.

spermologist – one who gathers seeds

This week's theme reveals a dirty little secret: dictionary-writers copy from each other. Even the Oxford English Dictionary includes several thousand words or meanings for which OED, having absolutely no example of the word actually being used in context, is relying solely upon other dictionaries. This week we are giving examples of such words.

Here are the OED citations for the words we've presented so far this week:
  • epulose: 1731 in BAILEY vol. II. 1847 in CRAIG; and in mod. Dicts.
  • queme: 1727 BAILEY vol. II, To Queme, as to queme a Thing into one's Hand, to put it in privately.
  • nexility: 1656 T. BLOUNT fastness, pithiness, compactness of speech. [1721 N. BAILEY ]
  • spermologist: 1727 BAILEY (vol. II), Spermologist, a Gatherer of Seed. 1755 JOHNSON, Spermologist, one who gathers or treats of seeds. [Hence in later Dicts.].
 
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Wink Weldone Whoever wins Razz
 
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antipelargy – mutual kindness, esp. the kindness of an adult to his or her aged parent
[OED cites Blount's 1656 Glossary and Bailey's 1731 dictionary.]

This week's words demonstrate that OED was quite willing to include words or meanings on the sole authority of previous dictionaries or word-lists. It includes almost 5,000 entries where it cannot show the word in actual use, and relies dictionary-citations.¹

On the other hand, quite a few such words were omitted from OED. That raises an interesting question: Why were some such words included and others omitted? For example, was Bailey's dictionary considered an adequate source for some, but not for others – and if so, why?

More to come on that question.


¹Almost all of these are from sources that preceded OED or were concurrent. But a handful were added later based on later sources.
 
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furfuration – the shedding of dandruff
Although OED coyly says, "The shedding of the skin in small branny particles," its supporting citations make it quite clear that we're talking about shedding from the scalp:
1706 PHILLIPS (ed. Kersey), Furfuration, the falling of Dandriff or Scurf from the Head, when it is comb'd. 1721 in BAILEY. 1854 in MAYNE Exp. Lex.

We've seen that OED's original editors trusted certain earlier dictionaries enough to include many words solely on the authority of those dictionaries.

Unfortunately, OED was not systematic in this. Its process for collecting such words was haphazard. This was been explained by the late Robert Burchfield, who was OED's chief editor for almost three decades, from 1957 to 1986:
    [T]he pattern of admission was governed as much by the choice made by the readers as by any abstract principles adopted by the editors. If a reader made a slip for such an item it was likely to be included, with small regard for consistency in words drawn from other writers, in other parts of the Dictionary. Conversely a word that was not copied by a reader had little chance of inclusion since the editorial staff would almost certainly be unaware of its existence.
    - Robert Burchfield, 'The Treatment of Controversial Vocabulary in the Oxford English Dictionary'', in Trans. of the Philological Society, 1973, pp. 1-28. (Reprinted in Burchfield, Unlocking the English Language (1989), p. 89.)
In short, though OED lacks some words that prior dictionaries include, its lack is not a principled exclusion. It is simply a matter of inadvertent omission. Those words are just as much "words" as those that OED included based on the same sources.

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For today's word I give you OED's entry verbatim, trusting that all are adult enough to understand. A slight hint: 'cod' does not mean a kind of fish. Think 'codpiece'.

testiculose – So testiculous 1721 BAILEY, Testiculous, that hath great Cods. 1727 vol. II, Testiculose, that hath large Cods. 1775 in ASH.

What a shame that so useful a word has fallen into disuse. I don't know why. It's a perfectly cromulent word.


Bonus word:
cromulent
– acceptable; legitimate
    Miss Krabappel: "I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield."
    Miss Hoover: "I don't know why. It's a perfectly cromulent word."
    – conversation, in episode of The Simpsons television show
'Cromulent' was coined in the television episode noted above, and now generates almost 40,000 google hits. OED has not yet accepted it. But OED editor Erin McKean includes it without reservation in her book Weird and Wonderful Words.
 
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Update on OED:
I'd said before that OED "includes almost 5,000 entries where it cannot show the word in actual use, and relies dictionary-citations."

Raise that 5,000 number.

I'd obtained it by doing an OED search for the symbol OED uses to indicate "zero citations found apart from dictionaries". But it turns out that OED sometimes neglects to include that symbol where it would apply. For example, the symbol is missing in its entry for another meaning of wimble; I quote that entry in its entirety:
    wimble, v.² To winnow.
    1556 WITHALS Dict. (1562) 20/2 A trey or shawlde to wynowe or wymble corne with.
Conclusion: OED has, even more than we thought, been willing to accept prior dictionaries without additional support; the amount of that 'extra' is as yet uncertain.

Edit: [kicking self] aput is correct, of course. I'm off to do a non-systematic search for an apt example. [/kicking self]

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That dictionary definition actually uses the word 'wymble': it is not merely setting it up as a word. A use in a dictionary is a good as a use anywhere else: it shows that the word actually exists, and could be used as explanation for another.
 
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Aha, aput! I agree with you completely...and I don't have any hidden agenda for that agreement. Wink

Seriously, though, I can't understand why there are gads of words in the OED that only appear in dictionaries, when "epicaricacy" isn't included. When I wrote to the OED North American Editor, Jesse Scheidlhower, he seemed to indicate that only being cited in dictionaries was the lone reason it wasn't in the OED. The questions that have occurred here about the spelling, etc., didn't seem to concern him in the least. Strange.
 
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