It isn’t quite as bad as looking for a needle in a haystack, but close. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has launched a search to find the first recorded use in English of the word ‘numpty’, which means a foolish or stupid person. This odd but interesting information came from The Times of Oman in their article, “Oxford English Dictionary launches search for first recorded use of word ‘numpty’.”

Since the mid-1980s, ‘numpty’ has been used as a mild term of abuse in Britain. The researchers want to find out if Glaswegians really were the first to call people numpties, or if the term existed earlier in other parts of the United Kingdom.

Like me, you may ask why. A spokesman for the team said: “OED Appeals is a dedicated community space on the OED website where OED editors solicit help in unearthing new information about the history and usage of English. Part of the process of revising words and phrases for the OED involves searching for evidence of a word’s first recorded use in English, and for this we need your help.” Anyone who knows where ‘numpty’ began to be used is urged to contact the OED team, and pass on their knowledge of how it came to be.

My research reveals that some believe it to be the “most cringeworthy word in the entire English language right now” and seek to not have it added to the dictionary.

Melody K. Smith

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