Updating the OED V: Old words!

Here's a neat feature of the online OED. (Alas! You can only connect if you or your institution has a subscription. So if you can't get there, and if you don't have the paper copy, you'll just have to take my word for it. Well, for the online interface stuff I'm talking about, even the paper copy doesn't work....)

As you look at the definition of a word, the word also appears in an alphabetical list in a frame in the left margin. For instance, for "cert (n.)," you can see "cert" in the middle of a list stretching from "cerosin," "ceroso-," "cerote," etc., down to "certes," "certie," "certifiable." This is good for checking similar words or correcting your own spelling, and also simulates to a small extent the experience of being seduced by random words you might find while flipping through a dictionary.

But you can switch from "List by entry" to "List by date"; then, instead of seeing your word in alphabetical context, you can see it in chronological context, where each word is indexed by the earliest listed occurrence (over the entire entry). "Cert" (in the "dead cert" meaning) is listed as appearing in 1889, so the words in the left margin run from "1889 catalytical," "1889 cataphoresis," "1889 catatonia," etc., down to "1889 chemiluminescence," "1889 chicle," "1889 chit-chatty."

There are a lot of 1889 words, but you can also go up or down a screen to see alphabetically prior or subsequent words in the same year, and further to see words from different years. This is fun because, if you're interested in a period, seeing what words first showed up in the language in that period gives you a nice sense of what was going on at the time in society and culture.

For example, "lonely" was invented by Shakespeare, who used it in Coriolanus ("I go alone Like to a lonely Dragon, that his Fenne Makes fear'd, and talk'd of more then seene.") in 1607 — did you know that "Alpine," "archaeology," "birthplace," "bloodshot," "exasperated," "Machiavellianism," "maestro," and "procrastinator" also appeared (as far as the OED knows) in that year?

Now I know what you're thinking: "O.K., Volokh, enough with the 1889 and 1607, what are the earliest known English words?"

UPDATE: Pat at Stubborn Facts responds. Also, note a useful comment by David Leon Gil in the comments.