To the dictionary’s class of 1914: happy birthday!

Britt Peterson, on the Boston Globe

1914 was a propitious time for a word to be born. The outbreak of World War I on July 28 was bad for English-speakers, but good for English, said Katherine Connor Martin, head of American dictionaries at the OED. Conscription in the armed services, she said, meant “a lot of young people from very different social classes mixing, people from different English-speaking regions who are mixing, [with] people who speak other languages.” This jumble inspired a vibrant military slang, which, along with names for new technologies in trench and aerial combat, trickled home in dispatches from the front—and in words like “trench coat” and “doohickey.”

Genuinely surprised to discover that “legalese” is that old, or “sociopath” that young.