"Her word had no weight": Jane Austen as a lexical test case for the OED.


Recent research on the OED has shown that Jane Austen has for various reasons been relatively overlooked by OED editors. The appearance of the online version greatly facilitates research into individual quoted authors and the dictionary's sources have become an important subject. It has long been clear that the OED has treated authors differentially, both in numbers of citations and the structure of entries, documenting some far more extensively than others. The purpose of this paper is to address this claim in a particular case by examining how Austen is represented in the OED and considering whether, for all its sophistication in defining, the OED has been sufficiently alert to the way she uses words.