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Thursday, 31 January 2013
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1933 Supplement
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Photo of 1933 OED1 and Supplement from OED archives
The OED began to go out of date soon after the first fascicle, A-Ant, was published in 1884. New words continued to be coined, and existing words, already recorded, continued to take on new meanings, or to shift in sense. By the completion of the Dictionary in 1928 its early volumes in particular looked insufficiently in touch with current usage, as witnessed by their exclusion of several hundreds of words which had special resonance for an early twentieth-century audience: the terminology of aviation (e.g. aerodrome, aerodynamic, aeroplane), plus a multitude of terms, or new uses, relating to munitions and politics which had entered the language in the wake of the First World War and other world events (Bolshevik, comintern, commandant, communication lines, communication trench, comrade, concentration camp, Concert of Europe, conchy, dreadnought (type of ship), pacifism, profiteer, etc.) - not to mention vocabulary from other fresh fields of endeavour in technology or cultural experience (as in new senses for words like film, jazz, movies, pictures, talkie, or coinages such as cinema).

The necessity for eventual supplementation of the OED had been recognized in the terms under which the Philological Society had handed over the Dictionary to Oxford University Press, in an Indenture of 1879 which provided that 'The Delegates [of OUP] may also at any time, and from time to time, prepare and publish a Supplement or Supplements to the principal Dictionary' (quoted from OED archives, OED/B/2/1/2). So by the time the last fascicle was published in 1928, 'a great body of quotations had been amassed with a view to a Supplement on a grand scale, which should not only treat the new words and new meanings that had come into being during the publication of the successive sections...but should also correct and amplify the evidence for what was already in print' (unpaginated Preface to the Supplement, in Murray 1933). But this, the publishers thought, was too ambitious a scheme. Instead, they decided to produce a single supplementary volume restricted to new words and senses, along with a smaller number of current words which had for some reason been omitted from the main Dictionary. Also included was a most valuable historical introduction, which can now be read online at the OED website, and a bibliography of works cited in the OED, prepared by two of the long-term staff, F. J. Sweatman and H. J. Bayliss (unfortunately this was not a complete record; as Craigie and Onions acknowledge in their prefatory note it instead comprised 'the titles of such works as have been most frequently quoted in the Dictionary').

The Periodical announced both the new Supplement and the re-issue of the first edition of the OED in its issue of October 1933 (p. 91 below).

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