I recently received version 2 of the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) in CD form – I have the last printed edition, from 1989, and very wonderful it is too. But the CD version allows the mighty OED to be much more up to date, and it allows you to search and interrogate it intelligently. This is the world’s greatest dictionary, in any language, and it was originally the work of a small team, led by one man, the erudite and dedicated Murray. The history of the dictionary, and of one of its more unusual contributors, are well worth reading – Elisabeth Murray's biography of her grandfather, Caught In The Web of Words, and Simon Winchester's The Surgeon of Crowthorne.
This then is not a first book of words “apple, bun, cake”, but the first book of words, a wordbook non-pareil. Come and explore – at the risk of getting lost, of temporary insanity, of being word drunk.
· The OED contains 5,507 quotations from the year of my birth;
· .. but only two of the entries were for words with a Gujarati etymology;
· 3,143 entries quote a Portuguese etymology, including anchovy and arrack, as well as zamorin and zerumbet;
· .. of which only 14 are later than 1900; over 1100 are from the C14th and C15th; and the same number from the C16th and C17th;
· lindsayite is a word! It is an altered version of anorthite, but I expect you knew that;
· cornflower contains no surprising definitions, but one word – nitid – which is new to me; it means bright, shining, glossy;
· dictionary was first used in English in 1552, but the Latin dictionarius dates back to c 1225;
· the OED contains 426 entries quoting a Gaelic source in their etymologies, from abthain to wood;
· there are 18 entries where the earliest reference is 2000 or later, including podcast, hacky-sack, and bling;
· a word – the thing that is defined - is a lemma.
There you are; I could go on, and probably will in some future time when I have mastered the search function more fully. But in the meantime, hours and days of time wasted awaits! What a treasure trove for a bookworm, though the CD is not so enticing for the bibliophilic maggots as the twenty printed volumes. If you are interested in dictionaries, look here.
By the way, the picture shows my OED “back-to-front”, with the lower volumes on the right, rising to the left. This is the old, true way; it accepts that the volumes are not different books, but parts of a single massive book. So they are on the shelf as if they were one book, so the last page, for example, of volume V is next to the first of volume VI – follis is next to follow - a sensible and orderly dispensation.