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#1511 - 04/24/00 01:17 AM new word
phantom Offline
stranger

Registered: 04/24/00
Posts: 1
I have coined a new word that seems to fill in a gap for a needed term. The word is "elocy", which is an acronym for "lack of concentration"; L.O.C. How do I submit this for dictionary inclusion?


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#1512 - 04/24/00 09:18 AM Re: new word
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10524
Loc: this too shall pass
whoa there big fella! that ain't exactly how it works.

You're going to have to get a lot of folks using it, and then when it becomes more or less standard (i.e., gets into print a lot) the lexicographers may notice it and put it in a supplement and watch to see if it sticks. And, in order for all of this to transpire, people are going to have to agree that it fills a niche left open in all those "inattention" and "distraction" and "neglect" type categories that can be found in a good Thesaurus.

So, having seen a lot of coinages suggested (and having suggested a few myownself), my advice to you is: don't hold your breath.


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#1513 - 04/24/00 01:23 PM Re: new word
Jackie Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 11610
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky
Michael, are you a horseman by hobby? The terms 'using a
check rein' and 'reining in' came to mind, esp. after "whoa there big fella"!
Darn--I am SO disappointed to learn the rules--but just think of the ways and speed language would change w/
Phantom's method! Nobody could keep up, all but the most
fanatical lexicographers would resign, and the remaining
few could live out the rest of their lives slowly
going insane. But--I DO have an occasional suggestion
myself...OK, OK, hold your horses! Just trying to see
whether I could get away w/ taking the bit in my mouth!


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#1514 - 04/24/00 01:40 PM Re: new word
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10524
Loc: this too shall pass
>Nobody could keep up, all but the most fanatical lexicographers would resign, and the remaining few could live out the rest of their lives slowly going insane.<

we're almost there.... <g>


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#1515 - 04/24/00 03:22 PM Re: new word
jeff Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/28/00
Posts: 39
Loc: Chicagoland
Hi Phantom,

User Tsuwm (Mike Fischer) is quite correct about “getting a word into the dictionary”. I thought I’d post a true-life example of how one person managed it, just to give you an idea of what you’re up against. The following account is from an e-mail sent to me by a determined journalist correspondent. Thanks to this man’s efforts the word “hizzoner” was listed for the first time in _Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary_. The listing from mw.com is given here: hiz·zon·er \hi-ZON-n&r\ noun, often capitalized [alteration of “his honor”] (c. 1924) : used as a title for a man holding the office of mayor

Here is the account of how one person got that word into the dictionary:

“Hizzoner - that was a LOT of work over a LONG period of time. You do that once in a lifetime unless you happen to have a lot of time on your hands and are willing to dig long and hard.

“I had a need to know when it came into the language, but there was no listing anywhere in the Merriam-Webster series, so I wrote to them. They said ‘That’s odd ... we thought it had been included.’ Told me that if I furnished enough citations, they would consider it [for inclusion]. My research took about five years and included something like (in their estimation) 100 citations.

“Cites came from newspapers (from all over the country, to show that it was not only a NYC term), books (either in the title or part of the text), films (you’d be surprised how many small and long-forgotten films, including educational stuff, had that in their titles), magazines and some miscellaneous places. I also showed its usage over time (my earliest was 1930; theirs was 1924, I think).

“MW said it would not be simply the number of citations, but this would be part of their decision. They decided in favor, so I became one of those few people who have had a word entered in an MW dictionary. The company says it receives many requests each year, but very few people actually follow up and do the research.”
--------

From personal experience, I can add that one criterion that determines if a word is to be ensconced in the dictionary is whether or not the citations demonstrate that the word is being used widely enough that a gloss need not be included with it. For example, nearly every article that reported on the astronomical occurrence of a “blue moon” last year, included an explanation of the term, i.e. “the second full moon within a single calendar month”. This sense of the word traces back to an almanac published in the 19th century, but this sense of the word is still used so infrequently (once in a blue moon?), that most writers include an explanation (a gloss) when they use the word in print. The lexicographer tends to discount such uses as invalid citations for supporting a word’s entry in the dictionary.

You may well ask why all this resistance to including more words. The answer is simple. The dictionary is a massive tome, printed on thin paper in tiny print. There simply isn’t room for including every upstart Johnny-come-lately neologism that comes along. Only those words that have a proven track record are given a few lines of precious space in our lexicons.

Don’t be discouraged by all this. Some words make it into the dictionary seemingly overnight. Many computer terms have popped up like mushrooms and were included in the very next editions. Their instant ubiquity is the reason. In fact, lexicographers are busier than ever with all the new words. If your new word catches on, and gets a lot of internet use, who knows but that ‘elocy’ might not turn up in the dictionary next year. LOL, the acronym for "laughing out loud", made it into the _Encarte Dictionary of World English_, last year. If LOL can make it, who's to say what's next?


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#1516 - 04/24/00 03:36 PM Re: new word
Philip Davis Offline
journeyman

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 81
I vaguely recall a story that quiz was a word invented by an Irishman to fulfill a bet that he could get people to use a new word. He put posters up all over Dublin inviting people to a quiz. People then had a quiz between themselves as to what a quiz was. I can't recall the details and this may just be a story but it's a possible way to get a new word into the dictionary fairly quickly.

By the way L. O. C. is a standard medical abbreviation for loss of consciousness, not lack of concentration which is much more poetically described by the term lackadaisical.


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#1517 - 04/24/00 03:56 PM Re: new word
jeff Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/28/00
Posts: 39
Loc: Chicagoland
Philip,

Hiring billboards is an expensive way to get people to use your word. Your story has received wide circulation of late, but the etymology for 'quiz' is unknown. New World says: [prob. arbitrary use of Latin quis, "what"].

The billboard story sounds apocraphal to me, but who can say? However, such a stunt should have left some record behind. The earliest citation at MW is dated 1749, and I tend to believe some newspaper account would have recorded such an unusual event. I trust the lexicographer over rumors any day.


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#1518 - 04/24/00 04:07 PM Re: new word
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10524
Loc: this too shall pass
Michael Quinion, who writes citations for the OED, has covered this one on his web site:

We don't know for sure where [quiz] comes from, but it doesn't seem to be as old as Shakespeare's day. It was first recorded in the late 1700s, in the sense of an odd or eccentric person. Later it became another word for a joke or a witticism and only about the middle of the nineteenth century did it take on the modern meaning of a more-or-less formal set of questions. There is a famous tale about a Dublin theatre manager named James Daly, who accepted a bet that he could create a new word without any meaning and have everybody in the city using it within 24 hours. He is said to have employed a large number of urchins to go around the city and chalk the word quiz on every surface they could find so that the next day everybody was asking what this word meant. The story is best viewed through the bottom of a glass of something Irish.


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#1519 - 04/24/00 05:01 PM Re: new word
jeff Offline
newbie

Registered: 03/28/00
Posts: 39
Loc: Chicagoland
Mike,

I'd like to check out Michael Quinion's web site. Could you post the URL or send it to me? Thanks.


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#1520 - 04/24/00 06:11 PM Re: new word
tsuwm Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10524
Loc: this too shall pass
jeff,

d'oh! I meant to do that; fortunately it is a correctable problem:

http://www.quinion.com/words/index.htm


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