Reporter’s Notebook: Oxford Needs You!

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You may never get to Oxford, but Oxford can come to you!

To commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War (1914–18), the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is revising a set of vocabulary related to or coined during the war. Part of the revision process involves searching for earlier or additional evidence, and for this we need your help,” reports the OED website.

OxfordYes, you, my budding writers of tomorrow, can contribute to the Oxford English Dictionary and the living history of the English language. Drop that into your resume!

Basically the evidence for the sought after words “first use” comes from newspapers and magazine articles, but there may be earlier appearances in letters, diaries, and government records which might be in personal collections.

Here is an excerpt from this list:

camouflage n. earlier than July 1916

The development of aerial warfare and accurate long-range artillery in the First World War meant that weapons, vehicles, and troops needed to be concealed from enemy view; hence the need for camouflage (a word borrowed from French; it had been used in French to mean ‘disguise’ since the 19th century). The earliest evidence we have for camouflage in English is from 1916:

“The shells, which a simple camouflage of white tarpaulins effectually hid from the enemy.”

1916 Cornhill Mag. July, p. 54

Other words needing confirmation include: demob, conchie, trench foot and zeppelins in a cloud.

You are requested to go to the OED Appeals page to submit any evidence.

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