Date: Tue, 7 Oct 1997 07:46:24 -0400

From: Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]YALE.EDU

Subject: Re: Film Noir; Hoosier; O.K. sign; Gay Life

How difficult was that??

How long did that take us--half a minute??

Even a computer title search would turn up Borde and Chaumenton's


I like solving things and I like to take credit for the things I

genuinely solve, but beating Safire and the OED by looking at page one of a

standard reference????

Well, Barry, although the OED is the product of an immense amount of

brilliant research, even they have trouble using sources from the future.

What you are doing here is criticizing the OED for not using a book

published in 1979 when compiling their entry for _film noir_, appearing

in the first volume of the OED Supplement, published in 1972. Perhaps you

will say that they should have picked up the information you refer to when

they came out with the second edition in 1989, but they explicitly did not

seek to antedate entries from the first edition and Supplement in the

second edition.

And, in any case, nothing that you mention is an antedating of the OED's

1958 citation for _film noir_ in an English-language context! You mention

only a 1946 usage of _noir_ and some French-language evidence. You will

probably respond to this by finding pre-1958 evidence in an

English-language context, but that doesn't alter my point, which is that

you are being unfair to both the OED and the RHHDAS with your bashing of

them on grounds that are often irrelevant to the purposes and real

achievements of those dictionaries.