The OED Appeals
Take part in our quest to record the true roots of our language
The OED Appeals are a new part of the Oxford English Dictionary website where OED editors ask for your help in uncovering the history of particular words and phrases. Each appeal is an invitation to assist OED editors in finding the earliest recorded date (or some other key aspect) of a word, to provide an accurate picture of when it made its first appearance in English.
OED editor Katherine Connor Martin said, “The OED’s record of the history of English was relying on input from the public more than a century before the term ‘crowdsourcing’ was even coined. James Murray launched an Appeal to the public as far back as 1879, and the OED Appeals continues this long tradition of asking the public for help in our quest to record the origins of our vast, fantastic, ever-changing lexicon. After all, when it comes to the words we read, write, speak, and hear each day, every one of us is an expert.”
Even with all of the resources available to lexicographers today from digitized sources, the origins of many words remain elusive. We can trace certain words and phrases back only so far with conventional tools. An old takeout menu, a family letter or album, or an obscure journal might hold the key to solving one of those mysteries. We are calling on language lovers everywhere to help us trace the history of words whose origins are shrouded in mystery.
Could you hold the key to unlocking some of these language conundrums?
Puzzles include: Where did the term FAQ originally come from?
Who was the first spy to come in from the cold?
If you can help, visit: www.oed.com/appeals