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Word for the Wise January 04, 2007 Broadcast Topic: Antedating

The American Historical Association begins its three day convention in Atlanta, Georgia today. The AHA is devoted to promoting historical studies, collecting and preserving historical documents and artifacts, and disseminating historical research. (来源:EnglishCN英语博客基地)

Lexicographers rely on historical documents as much as historians do; after all, tracing back usage and the first known appearance of words and phrases requires documentation. Indeed, antedating a word—that is, finding an earlier usage than previously known—often occurs because of a chance reading of an historical text. Every edition of a good historical dictionary includes antedates, and lexicographers are always delighted to discover evidence (called a citation) of early usage.

Between the 10th and 11th editions of the Collegiate Dictionary, for example, due to a little historical sleuthing, the first known print appearance of the term bona fides (meaning "evidence of one’s good faith, genuiness, achievements, or qualifications;" or simply "good faith; sincerity; the act of being genuine") shifted—for real—from 1798 to 1665, while iceboat (a skeleton boat or frame on runners propelled on ice, usually by sails) skated back in time from the early 1800s to1768.

 
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