The Oxford English Dictionary announced the launch of OED Appeals, a major online initiative set to involve the public in tracing the history of English words. Using a dedicated community space on the OED website, editors are soliciting help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of English. The website will enable the public to post evidence in direct response to OED editors online, fostering a collective effort to record the English language.
Appeals will be posted to the website on a frequent basis. Some of the entries the OED team is initially asking the public's help with include:
Can you provide evidence of ‘bellini' before 1965? The famous cocktail of peach juice mixed with Prosecco or champagne is said to have been invented in Venice at Harry's Bar in the 1930s, and named (in Italian) in 1948 (in honour of the painter Giovanni Bellini, c1430-1516). Earlier evidence in English may be available in travelogues or guidebooks.
come in from the cold
Did John le Carré coin the phrase? Meaning ‘(esp. of a spy) to return from isolation, concealment, or exile', it is famous from le Carré's 1963 novel The Spy who Came in from the Cold but was it ever used by actual intelligence officers?
Do you have proof of the earliest FAQ? The term is currently attributed to Eugene N. Miya, a researcher at NASA, who is said to have coined it c1983 in documents circulated to Usenet groups on the history of the space programme. Our earliest verifiable evidence is from 1989 but we'd like to go back further to prove the coinage of the word.
The OED's expansive record of the history of English has relied on input from the public since its earliest days, from the original Appeal for contributions in 1859. The online OED Appeals brings the public into conversation with the dictionary's professional lexicographers more directly than ever before.