How the Oxford English Dictionary Went from Murderer’s Pet Project to Internet Lexicon | Atlas Obscura

A shot rang out into the cold night air in Lambeth Marsh, a notorious London slum. Police officers rushed to the scene. There, they found a well-dressed surgeon, Dr. William Chester Minor, who quickly admitted to committing a murder. While the body of a local man named George Merrit lay lifelessly on the ground, the doctor attempted to explain his motives.

He claimed he meant to shoot somebody else—who was part of a broad network of Irish avengers that were out to get him. After his unhinged confession, Minor was admitted to the Broadmoor Insane Asylum in 1872. He lived there for decades, reading books, painting watercolors, and contributing to the most comprehensive English language dictionary in existence, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)…

Source: How the Oxford English Dictionary Went from Murderer’s Pet Project to Internet Lexicon | Atlas Obscura

OED release notes: the language of World War I | OxfordWords blog

via OED: OxfordWords blog.

By 1914 military involvement overseas had long been leaving its mark on the English language. We can go back to the Elizabethan age, for example, to England’s deep engagement in the Eighty Years’ War in the Netherlands and find loanwords entering English from both Spanish, the language of the enemy, and Dutch, the language of the ally on whose territory the conflict played out. From Spanish we get tercio (an infantry formation that might be described as the tank of its day), major, and reformado (a term which became common during the English Civil War). From Dutch there is freebooter, roiter, beleaguer (originally with the literal meaning ‘besiege’), and Moff. In this context, it comes as no surprise to find French, the language of the ally on whose territory the conflict played out, and German, the language of the enemy, having a similar influence on English during World War I.

German was the source of a quite different set of loans, mainly words referring to German weapons and vehicles, such as minenwerfer (and the diminutive Minnie) and U-boat. But perhaps the most significant German loanword of the First World War – one which outlasted the war, has been fully naturalized in English, and is no longer perceived as markedly German – is strafe.

Strafe

Gott strafe England! (‘May God punish England!’) was a German slogan of the First World War, widely used in propaganda. By summer 1915…

via OED release notes: the language of World War I | OxfordWords blog.