GDoS Online was launched two years ago, in October 2016. Since then there have been seven updates, the latest is forthcoming at the end of this month, and the dictionary has been expanded, improved and, not least corrected. There are now just over 55,000 headwords, within which can be found nested, i.e. included at the primary noun, verb and sometimes adjective:
All of which are backed up by 640,451 illustrative citations.
My initial aim was to offer the dictionary in two formats: one would be free and permitted users to see A [the word, its compounds, phrases and derivatives, plus all pertinent senses] + B [an etymology] and C [a definition]. For those who were willing to pay a subscription there would also be D [the illustrative citations that show a term’s historical development]. An update, including both new terms of slang (whether from the past or present) and new citations (which meant that subject to research the much-desired ‘first recorded use’ of a given term would be continually shifted backwards) was to be added every three months.
In the two years that the dictionary has been on line there have been added:
2,215 new slang words and phrases
3,045 ante-dates, i.e. earlier examples of first recorded use
19,947 new citations
Two years into the project, and having no intention to abandon my researches, I have decided that the dictionary in its entirety – headwords, etymologies, definitions and citations – will henceforth be made available for free. I am grateful to those who have subscribed, and for those who wish, I shall repay whatever sums are outstanding as of the relaunch. I would ask only for a little time, since the new system must first be up and running. Your subscription will continue as is until then.
Thanks too to everyone who has supported the on-going research. Please continue. All suggestions, as they say, very gratefully received.
It is intended that this change, plus the latest update, be released on 5 November. This date may not resound with non-UK users, but elucidation can be found here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guy_Fawkes_Night.
The precise method of logging on will be explained once the relaunch is ready. It is hoped that the same URL will remain.
Some users might feel that there remains one question: why?
There are a number of practical reasons, mainly to do with administration, an area of expertise that has never traditionally appealed to lexicographers but which over-excites the various authorities who demand it. Those, however, are secondary.
What makes GDoS different from any other published slang dictionary is the range of citations, the usage examples. Researching these, finding new material, pushing back our knowledge of the first appearance of a term (and that pushing back is infinitely flexible, the only constant being that ‘back’ is almost certainly on offer to the searcher) has always been at the heart of the dictionary. Not everyone needs such material on every occasion, but it seems to me that everyone should have the opportunity to consult it. This will now be possible.
In an ideal or perhaps older world, the work might have gained institutional backing, the usual means being a publisher. But I have come long since to accept that no publisher, even including the one who (reluctantly, as they made clear) put out the print edition in 2010, feels that the work is of value or worth. No matter; death will see me off, dismissal will not. I have no choice but to continue alone and in so doing, what truly matters is visibility.
So ego, of course, enters the picture: one does the work, one wishes it to be seen and used. Otherwise one becomes nothing more than an ever-older old man, sitting in a small room, tracking down new words for, inter alia, masturbation.
When the print version appeared, a reviewer was kind enough to declare the work ‘Quite simply the best historical dictionary of English slang there is, ever has been […] or is ever likely to be.’ I am no longer responsible for proving the first half of that encomium, I am very keen to justify the second.
Jonathon Green aka Mister Slang