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Spelling it out: the volunteers who made the dictionary

From an employee of a tram company in Birkenhead to the deeply eccentric Alexander Ellis, a celebration of the army of unpaid contributors to the first edition of the OED

16 September 2023

9:00 AM

16 September 2023

9:00 AM

The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford English Dictionary Sarah Ogilvie

Chatto & Windus, pp.384, 22

‘Everything obscene comes from France,’ wrote James Dixon, an eye surgeon retired to Dorking, in 1888. He was provoked by learning of an item called a condom, and explained to his correspondent, James Murray, that this was ‘a contrivance used by fornicators, to save themselves from a well-deserved clap’. Surely the word had no place in the Oxford English Dictionary, of which Murray had for the previous nine years been editor? Murray was persuaded and left it out.

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