Oxford begins search for first use of ‘email’

WASHINGTON (TIP): The Oxford English Dictionary has launched a search to find the first recorded use in English of the word ’email’.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which began tracking the English language in 1857, is looking for the first use of the word ’email’. “Before email was email, it was electronic mail. Although the shorter form is by far the more common name today, the full form electronic mail of course came first,” according to a post on the OxfordWords blog.

The OED currently has a first quotation for electronic mail from 1975; the shorter email is first attested four years later, in 1979, USA Today reported.

“Although this does not seem like a very large gap in time, it seems unlikely that the 1979 quotation represents the coinage of email, taken as it is from a professional journal,” the blog post said.

The OED occasionally issues “OED Appeals” soliciting help in uncovering new information about the history and usage of English.

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