Things to do when you can’t sleep (xiii):


xiii:  Contribute to the Oxford English Dictionary

– thus joining a long line of cranks, obsessives and insomniacs who have helped to build this national monument.  The first edition of the OED was, I think, the first work of scholarship produced by deliberately harnessing grass-roots community contributions, a movement now flourishing with Wikipedia, Galaxy Zoo and suchlike.

The online form is fairly straight-forward.  I hope I haven’t  just missed an already-existing entry and become a time-waster.

While I was in the OED (accessed through public library membership so give them a gold star) I trawled for a few new words:

bathukolpian, bathybius, batie-bum, batologist, battologist

– respectively, deep-bosomed, slime at the bottom of the ocean, an idle person, a person who specializes in plants of the bramble family, and an individual who needlessly repeats the same thing.

(Simon Winchester’s delightful book The Surgeon of Crowthorne  should get a mention here for its story of the first OED, its obsessive editor and one of its most dedicated and disturbed contributors.)


2 responses »

  1. Good post. People tend to think the book is only about definitions, but it also shows how words change over time, and i have used it a few times to find sources for my research. the Surgeon of Crowthorne is a brilliant book.

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