The Oxford English Dictionary and its chief word detective
Oxford English Dictionary Chief Editor John Simpson is to retire after 37 years at the famous reference work. Here he writes of a life hunting for the evidence behind the birth of words.
Historical dictionaries are not just about definitions.
Every word or phrase has a story, and the historical lexicographer has to tease this story out from whatever documentation can be found. That is one of the pleasures of working on the Oxford English Dictionary.