Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Words, words, words …

… The American Heritage Dictionary usage panel: Defining Characteristic - The Dictionary and Us. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Time, obviously, makes it own decisions about what is right and wrong in usage, and tracking the many changes wrought by history as it comes barreling through a dictionary is a major part of the work of professional lexicographers. In 1972, for instance, usage editor Bohle pointed out that the courtesy title Ms. had become common enough that it could no longer be ignored by a standard English dictionary—this was shortly before Ms.magazine popularized the term even further. Graham wrote the entry, and Ms. appeared for the first time in a dictionary, along with the first definitions for sexism and liberated woman.

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