This is the second instalment in our regular updates about contributions made to the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s Word Box. We invite members of the public to alert us to words and phrases that are either new to them or used in an unfamiliar way by submitting them to our Word Box. These contributions allow our editors to identify new material both for our general Australian Oxford dictionaries and for our archive of Australian words, and to share these findings with you. We thank everyone for their submissions and encourage you to contribute to Word Box – just click on the Word Box image to post your word. A few of the more interesting contributions from the last three months are discussed below. Some we have come across previously, and some are new to us. We welcome any comments about your understanding or experience of these words.
When James Murray, first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), set about his massive project of defining and chronicling the English language, he realised the need for a volunteer force to undertake the reading of printed works in the English language. In April 1879 he sent out ‘An Appeal to the English-Speaking and English-Reading Public in Great Britain, America and the British Colonies to read books and make extracts for the Philological Society’s New English Dictionary’. He asked people to: ‘Make a quotation for every word that strikes you as rare, obsolete, old-fashioned, new, peculiar or used in a peculiar way.’