Friday, 3 December 2010

Has he or hasn't he?

Sly innuendo is not something you expect to encounter when you consult the Oxford English Dictionary.

However, in announcing the publication this week of the new version of the OED Online, its editor has given this question as an example of the kind of thing it can answer: Would Prince William have 'joined giblets' with Kate?

For the benefit of those sad individuals who cannot afford the subscription and do not belong to an English library or other institution which gives you free access to the OED, I will tell you what I found in the Historical Thesaurus now incorporated with it.   The answer is 'No, not yet'.  (To join one's giblets means to get married.)

On second thoughts, this is probably not the only instance of impropriety to be found in the great work. I haven't looked for others, but scattered among its thousands of pages there must surely be more examples of suggestive interpretations, definitions or etymologies. If anyone can find some and pass them on to me, I shall be happy to publish a list for the gratification of the more prurient of my readers.

I am referring of course only to gentle indelicacies. Everyone knows that the OED, aiming to be comprehensive in its coverage of the English language, contains on almost every page a plethora of explicit obscenity. I won't have any of that sort of thing in OMF: if you are keen on this, you will have to take out a second mortgage or join a library so that you can subscribe to OED online and search it for filthy words.

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