Dates of Usage


Maybe this is an easy one, if so excuse my novice. I am doing some preliminary work on a potential research project comparing earliest attested dates of usage.

I'm trying to use the API to extract the dates of usage listed with words' quotations. For example, in the online interface I find under the word chef the following quotations:

1826 B. Disraeli Vivian Grey I. ii. ii. 85 What sort of genius is your Lordship's gastrical chef?
a1845 R. H. Barham Blasphemer's Warning in Ingoldsby Legends (1847) 3rd Ser. 245 The Chef's peace of mind was restor'd, And in due time a banquet was placed on the board.
1860 All Year Round 22 Sept. 567 You have..finally decided on the menu with your chef.
1918 Woman's Home Compan. Dec. 59/1 In Paris, a famous chef created a remarkable soup recipe.
1960 Guardian 18 Aug. 5/5 Filled with sea air, sunshine, and the menus of a master chef.
1979 D. P. Jordan King's Trial iv. 81 A couple of people to help with the housecleaning, and a kitchen staff of thirteen (a chef, an assistant chef, and eleven cooks).
1994 J. I. Huss Faux Gourmet i. 52 I don't want to become a gourmet chef. I just want simple things that will keep during the week.
2012 Atlantic Sept. 53/3 Silently, sullenly, the chef works his skillet.

Specifically I am looking for the earliest date in this list (in this case, 1826). Right now in the JSON retrieved by the API, all I can find under 'etymologies' is a less specific date. (e.g. for chef I find "early 19th century: French, literally ‘head’")

Is this information available through the API? If so, how can I retrieve it? Thanks!


  • AmosDuveenAmosDuveen Member, Administrator, Moderator admin

    Hi @FGietz,

    This is going to get a little confusing...

    You are looking at API data from the Oxford Dictionary of English (ODE), which is a single-volume description of current usage, whereas the information you found online came from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), which is the 24-volume historical record of the English language. That is why you are getting different results.

    We are currently developing an API to deliver OED data (documentation here); it has not yet been 'released into the wild', but you can certainly have a play with the documentation to get a feel for how it would work. Watch this forum for updates regarding the OED API launch.

  • FGietzFGietz Member

    Thank you! That explains the discrepancies I was confused by. Is there currently a timeline or projected release date for the OED API? I will certainly keep my eyes on the forum.

  • SimoneSimone Administrator admin

    Hi @FGietz
    I'm glad Amos's explanation helped.
    Apart from the link to the OED documentation Amos directed you to, keep an eye on our updates page too.
    There is no tentative date for the release of the OED data, but any news will be first published on that page.
    And, as Amos mentioned, keep an eye on the forum!
    Do let me know if you need any other help at all! :)

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