Bailey!

I’ve answered the pressing question: did the Lexicon Balatronicum steal its etymology of “dildo” from Bailey? The answer is yes.

There’s a wonderful, amazing etext of Nathaniel Bailey’s Universal Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. It consists of scans of the pages, served out with a system called “djvu“. This requires a plugin to work (and will make Mozilla fail spectacularly — don’t do that), but it’s well worth it.

There is only one tiny problem, which is that the online edition is from 1772, after a couple other editors had mucked with the book (Bailey died in 1742). Johnson’s Dictionary, which everyone goes on about being better than Bailey, was published in 1755. People claim that Bailey’s has the juicy words, including our versions of “cunnus” and “futuo”. But this one doesn’t have them! I’m afraid the evil influence of Johnson, who was too much of a tight-ass to even let “dildo” into his, scared the later editors into vitiating this Bailey.

But, really, no biggie. Non-obscene words can be fun to look up too.

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