Additions Series Volume 1: Introduction

Here you can read the full text of the Introduction to the Additions Series Volume 1. You can also view the original as a PDF.

This is the first of a series of volumes, planned to appear at roughly two-yearly intervals, containing new entries which have been prepared for the Third Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Many of the entries represent entirely new headwords, others consist of new senses, collocations, phrases, etc. which supplement material already contained in the Second Edition of the Dictionary.

Even as the Second Edition of the OED was published in 1989, the editorial staff had in hand about two thousand new entries nearing the final stages of completion. Each year an equivalent number of additional new entries are edited. Our initial plan was to add these entries to the OED database during the course of revising the Dictionary for its third edition. A number of factors, however, led us to decide upon the present mode of publication; principally the quantity of unpublished entries, their utility to those interested in recent developments in the language, and the fact that it will be some years before the third edition of the Dictionary is ready to be published.

A second question had then to be addressed: should each volume confine itself to a particular alphabetical range, or should the volumes all contain entries throughout the alphabet? The principal advantage of the latter option was that any new entry could be included in any volume, rather than being forced to wait until the cycle of publication returned to the alphabetical range to which it belonged. A further advantage was that it would be possible to include in each volume entries which were related to, and to which reference was made by, another entry from which they were alphabetically separated. On this basis we decided to allow each volume the potential of a full alphabetical spread, even though different volumes would tend to contain concentrations of entries in particular parts of the alphabet. The second and subsequent volumes will contain a cumulative index of new entries, directing the user to the Additions volume in which they may be found.

The present volume includes many of those entries which were in process of preparation when the Second Edition of the OED was published. Some of these had originally been prepared with the needs of the forthcoming New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary in mind. The selection of others was influenced by the requirements of the Concise Oxford Dictionary (eighth edition) and other Oxford dictionaries, perhaps most notably the Oxford Dictionary of New Words (1991). Subsequent volumes of the OED Additions series will also attest to these same influences, as it is an integral part of the OED‘s role today to provide fully researched and edited new material for the range of dictionaries produced by the Oxford University Press. However, the vast majority of new entries were the direct result of the systematic analysis of the OED‘s quotation files, which are augmented each year by a further 200,000 citations of English usage collected by the Dictionary’s international reading programme.

The Additions volumes should, therefore, be regarded as the result of work-in-progress on new entries for the OED. They are not intended individually to present a balanced picture of recent additions to the language; a fuller picture will establish itself as the series unfolds. It will in fact be noted that the majority of entries in each volume are not neologisms, but represent a heterogeneous collection of accessions to the language over the past few centuries. Some are surprising omissions from earlier editions of the Dictionary, others cover subjects which have recently gained in prominence, while yet others document the division into separate subsenses of meanings which were previously treated as a single sense.

The computerization of the OED has yielded substantial benefits to the editorial staff in the preparation of new entries. Quotations already included in the Dictionary for other words often provide earlier attestations of words and senses subsequently worked upon. In addition, it is possible to achieve a greater stylistic consistency through the comparison, by computer, of editorial styles used in entries similar to those currently under review, and the bibliographical standardization of short-titles is easier to achieve. These factors should also prove extremely useful in the full revision of the text of the Dictionary. It is our intention, however, that stylistic consistency should not prove a straitjacket when nuances of meaning or the convenience of the user require some slight deviation from it.

The editorial style and the format of entries in the Additions series follows in all essential details that of the Second Edition of the Dictionary. The procedure for adding new senses to existing entries follows that of the Supplement to the OED (1972–86), itself based on the former one-volume Supplement of 1933. Cross-references to entries which may be found within the Additions series are preceded by an asterisk, to distinguish them from entries cross-referring to material in the Second Edition of the OED. On occasion it has been necessary to upgrade to the status of main entry a word which previously was embedded in another entry (typically the root-word). Such alterations are signalled by the words ‘Formerly at [the previous entry].’ The traditional style adopted by the OED for many nested collocations and combinations has been modified: in the Additions series these are printed with the illustrative quotations immediately following the term whose history they document, and no longer as a list of lemmas followed by a paragraph of quotations in which the blocks illustrating each lemma are run on in alphabetical order. This new style has been adopted with the convenience of the user in mind. Introductory notes have been added to some entries detailing changes to the numbering of subsenses as a result of the insertion of new material within an existing sense-hierarchy. Cross-references in the Additions volumes are made to the new sense numbers, in cases where a change has occurred. Other less significant innovations included the introducing of n. rather than sb. (= substantive) for the abbreviation of ‘noun’; the placing of square brackets around sense numbers which already occur in the text of the Second Edition of the OED, so that entirely new subsenses can be identified at a glance; the use of capital initials for German nouns, principally in etymologies; and the ordering of homographs according to a regular sequence.

The entries included in this volume attest to the seemingly endless capacity of English to accept borrowings from other languages, and to the recognition by lexicographers of the many varieties of English throughout the world. The English of the Caribbean, whether spoken in its native countries, or transported abroad, brings fresh vocabulary to the lexicon of English, as does that of the Indian subcontinent or of Hispanic America. Many of the entries in this volume support the view that the majority of innovations in World English originate in the English of the United States of America. The present concern with ‘political correctness’ (a term itself to be treated in a subsequent volume) has generated new strains of vocabulary, some of which are here to stay, and some of which will in turn give way to new orthodoxies. The remarkable changes which the world has recently seen in eastern Europe have swept away terminology which had seemed established, and have opened the way for a new generation of terms to cover the new economic, political, and social structures. In its train comes a renewed interest on the part of the West in the cultures of hitherto little-known societies: their languages, customs, social organization, and everyday concerns. Sport, music, medicine, law, the environment, and computing have all contributed new terms: the word-hoard of English is changing every day.

The present volume is only the first in a series: the editors are aware that much remains to be done in the documenting of English throughout the world, both in terms of the language of today and of that of the past. One advantage of a regular series such as the OED Additions volumes is that readers can, we hope, feel that suggestions of new entries for inclusion in the Dictionary will be considered speedily: any suggestions of this kind are always welcome.

Oxford, November 1992

J. A. S.    E. S. C. W.