Welcome to the Wordlady blog!

This blog is about the fascinating, fun, and challenging things about the English language. I hope to entertain you and to help you with problems or just questions you might have with spelling and usage. I go beyond just stating what is right and what is wrong, and provide some history or some tips to help you remember. Is something puzzling you? Feel free to email me at wordlady.barber@gmail.com.
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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Are you quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary?

If you're an author or if you work on a periodical, you may find it fun to see how often your publication is quoted in the Oxford English Dictionary. (You may be surprised to see what words you unwittingly illustrated!). I can tell you, we lexicographers read as many and as varied texts as we can get our hands on. 

Here's how to do it. You have to have a subscription to OED online, which is available through many public libraries (for instance in Vancouver and Toronto -- but not in Ottawa, shame on Ottawa Public Library!). Alumni may also have access through their alma mater's library.

(Scroll down to see what the search screens look like.)

When you arrive on the home page of the OED, click on "advanced search" (under the quick search window). 

If you're an author, type in the initial of your first name and your full surname in the search window, click on the window beside it to bring up the drop-down window, and select "Quotation author".  Hit the red search button.

Then type in the name of your periodical where it says "enter search" and click on the window beside it to bring up the drop-down window. Select "Quotation title". Then hit the red search button.  

If you want to narrow your search by date, you can add this in the line below the "quotation title" search. You can use the wildcard *; if you want to find everything from the 1990s, for instance, simply type in 199*, then click on "quotation date" in the drop-down menu.

Advanced search page, author search: 

Advanced search page, periodical search, narrowed by date