The American Heritage Dictionary and Lesbian [Feh?]
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 97 14:02:41 -0700
Subject: The American Heritage Dictionary and Lesbian [Feh?]
In replying to someone else on Fri, 20 Jun 1997, Patrick Tufts wrote:
> >According to the American Heritage 3rd
> >edition, definition 2 of "backformation" is a word that was formed by
> According to my copy of the American Heritage Dictionary (copyright
> 1981, I think), the word "lesbian" does not exist, and "Lesbian" means a
> resident of the isle of Lesbos.
> When I visited my brother-in-law and spotted his copy of the American
> Heritage Dictionary, I crowed about how bad it was and told him to
> look up the L word. He did, and it was listed. His edition was
> copyright around 1977, which probably means the bozos intentionally
> removed the entry from the later printing.
Well that's pretty interesting. Being a fan of dictionaries, I went down to
my main dictionary vault (just for dictionaries from A to C, in English) and
withdrew 1976 and 1982 editions of the American Heritage Dictionary and took
a look for myself.
In the 1976 one ("American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. New
college ed. (c)1976" also (c) 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1976 by Houghton
Mifflin Company. ISBN: 0-395-20360-0 L.of C. Catalog Card Number 76-86996)
Les-bi-an _n._ 1. A native or resident of Lesbos. 2. The Ancient Greek
dialect of Lesbos, belonging to Aeolic, used in the lyric poetry of Sappho
and Alcaeus. 3. _Usually_small_ l. A female homosexual. --_adj._ 1. Of
or relating to Lesbos or its people. 2. Of or relating to the Ancient Greek
dialect of Lesbos 3. Of, relating to, or characteristic of Sappho, or her
poetry. 4. _Usually_small_ l. Relating to or characteristic of female
les-bi-an-ism _n._ Also Les-bi-an-ism. Female homosequality
Whereas in the 1982 one ("The American Heritage Dictionary. Second college
ed. (c)1982 by Houghton Mifflin Company." ISBN: 0-395-32944-2 L.of C.
Catalog Card Number 82-9346) I found:
Les-bi-an _n._ 1. A native or resident of Lesbos. 2. lesbian. A woman who
is a homosexual. 3. The Ancient Greek dialect of Lesbos. --Lesbian _adj._
Well! A tad bit shorter, eh? I guess the subject got less interesting
between 1976 and 1982; there's no point in keeping these lengthy entries for
words that are hardly ever used anymore; is there?
Just for the record, I'm a fan of the American Heritage dictionaries because
their usage notes tend to agree with my ear (i.e. old-fashioned).
Peter Langston - firstname.lastname@example.org - Seattle, WA - http://www.empire.net/~psl/
© 1997 Peter Langston